Minister Quinn visits Saudi Arabia at the invitation of His Excellency, Minister Al-Ankary

April 2014

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D. delivered the keynote address to the 5th International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education (IECHE) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and visited the ‘Education in Ireland’ stand at the conference.

Education in Ireland is the body responsible for promoting and developing Ireland as a destination for international students in higher education. Over the past four years, Saudi Arabia has become one of Ireland’s most important partners in international education. Both countries signed a memorandum of understanding on education and scientific co-operation in Dublin in 2011.

Ireland now hosts more than 1,700 Saudi students, a dramatic increase on the 200 students who were studying here in 2009. The students are studying in higher education institutions and pre-higher education English language training. The vast majority are funded under the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme (KASP), injecting €100m into the Irish economy each year.

As part of the official visit to Saudi Arabia, Minister Quinn, TD also met with the Minister for Higher Education, H.E. Dr. Khalid Mohammend Al-Ankary.

Minister Quinn highlighted the quality of Ireland’s education system, and explored further opportunities with Minister Al-Ankary for increasing cooperation on education matters.

The trip will mark several developments between Irish and Saudi Arabian third-level institutes.

Speaking at the IECHE in Riyadh today, Minister Quinn said, “We are delighted that increasing numbers of Saudi students are availing of the opportunities in the Irish education system. It is also a great pleasure to make my first visit to the Kingdom and to reciprocate the visit which Minister Al-Ankary made to Ireland in 2011.”

The objectives of the IECHE are to provide Saudi students and universities with the opportunity to interact with international higher education Institutions and to establish academic agreements between local and international institutions.

“The Irish Government takes the responsibility of educating young people from around the world very seriously, and we will be introducing new policies to further strengthen the quality of provision and support which is given to international students,” Minister Quinn concluded.

The Conference also aims to encourage the development of the local higher education sector through interaction and communication with international institutions and to provide both international and local universities with a gateway through which they can meet to share and discuss their expertise and insights on the field of higher education.