Dublin’s Lord Major explains why he thinks the city well deserves its eighth-place position in the 2012 QS Best Student Cities.
Andrew Montague, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, talks to us about the factors behind Dublin’s eighth place finish in our Best Student Cities ranking.
Dublin, the city that gave us Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, is not a city that lacks romantic appeal. Indeed, it is one of the most visited cities in the world in terms of tourism.
It is also popular with a certain type of longer term visitor, with 11,671 international students studying at one of its four ranking universities when the data was collected for the 2011 QS World University Rankings – just shy of a quarter of the overall total.
A good performance in the inaugural QS Best Student Cities ranking was therefore to be expected, but to finish in eighth is still particularly impressive.
So what’s behind this strong performance from the Irish capital? With four universities in the rankings, two of which – Trinity College Dublin at 65 and University College Dublin – are in the top 200, it obviously scores highly in terms of its universities.
But where it performs particularly well is student mix, as the above figures will attest to, in which it is the second highest ranking city outside of Australia (in the top 50).
Attracting foreign students, says the city’s Lord Mayor Andrew Montague, is a key priority. “It is critically important for the city and a key priority for us as a city council. It builds links between Dublin and the rest of the world, with a wide range of benefits economically, culturally and socially; allows our students to meet and learn from students from all around the world; and encourages innovation, new ideas and research leading to new products and services.”
“Major changes,” he adds, “have been made to our immigration regime to encourage international students to come here.”
Policies are one thing, but to be successful there must be something concrete behind them. What is it, then, that attracts so many international students to Ireland’s capital?
“Dublin can offer a high quality educational experience, on top of which it's a friendly, open, welcoming city, which is also young and diverse. Its relatively small scale means that it is easy to get around, and it also offers easy access to countryside and rest of Ireland.” He adds that it enjoys a rich cultural life, and that that public museums and galleries are free.
The Lord Mayor’s comments are backed up by the data used to compile the rankings, which confirm that in terms of quality of living, you can’t really do much better than Dublin. Where it fairs less well is affordability, but this is a common theme amongst the highest ranking cities, suggesting that if you want a high quality of life, you may well have to pay for it.
But there is more to it than quality of life. Montague is particularly keen to enumerate the benefits of Dublin as an employer hotspot.
“The emerging internet capital of Europe’ and ‘Dublin’s Silicon Dock’ are just some of the phrases being used to describe Dublin’s tech cluster. These are exciting times for the city with Twitter recently adding their name to companies such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Zynga who are all setting up in the docklands area of the city (and all within walking distance of each other).
"Add to this the long term presence of the likes of IBM, Microsoft, HP and Intel and it is clear to see why people are beginning to call Dublin the Silicon Valley of Europe. It is also emerging as a cloud computing hub with Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM all active in this area.”
The presence of all these employers means that Dublin fairs rather well in terms of employer activity. You might also be interested to know that all four of Dublin’s ranking universities fair better than their overall rank in terms of employer reputation, with three making the top 100 in this indicator. If employment is high on your agenda, then maybe you ought to consider Dublin as an option.
It is also a sound choice, says Lord Mayor Montague, if you want to carve your own niche. “It’s a great place to start your own company. There are more than five inspired start up accelerator programs in Dublin alone, including Propeller, Startupbootcamp, Create, Launchpad and Hothouse that provide the classic 3 month program with mentors and funding.”
He goes on to point out that this applies to Ireland as whole: “There is finance and investment available for start-ups with great ideas – it’s a great time for early stage teams forming a business to locate in Ireland.
"There’s over US$250m available in seed funding at present. This is comprised of four dedicated funds totalling US$145m, further matching funding from Enterprise Ireland of US$80m, add-in initiatives such as the Competitive Start Fund, angel funds from structured groups such as HBAN, and private investment from high net-worth individuals.”
So, great employment prospects, a high quality of life, a high percentage of students and, above all, four highly ranked universities – to which, of course, we must add Dublin’s world famous ‘craic’: it is not hard to see why Dublin is the eighth best place in the world in which to be a student.