Getting the visa

One of the major changes to have taken place in higher education in Ireland during the current decade is its internationalisation. When I was a student in Dublin in the 1970s, the number of students from overseas (leaving aside Britain) was tiny. Even when I took over as President of DCU, we had a small number only of international students. All this has changed, and every Irish university now has a considerable number, typically somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent of the student body. It must be said at once that these students enrich our lives: they provide a cultural mix, they bring with them the academic insights they have acquired in their countries, and they support the Irish economy. In short, they are of huge value to us as a country.

It is therefore particularly disturbing that we make access to Ireland for them extraordinarily difficult. For students from outside the European Union, they require a visa, and getting this is both bureaucratically complex (and I gather, sometimes unpleasant) and very time-consuming. Most students who come to Ireland could be going somewhere else. Countries competing with us – such as the United Kingdom and the United States – now tend to offer a streamlined and fast visa application process. The UK authorities will typically offer a visa within 2-3 weeks of asking; in our case it can take months.

If we are serious about wanting to have an international student body, with all the benefits this brings, then this is an unacceptable state of affairs. I would acknowledge that the opening of visa offices in certain countries has helped, but even in those it can still take much longer than it should. Rather than lag behind the UK, we should be assuring students wanting to come to Ireland that we will process their applications still more quickly than the British, and moreover that we will treat them with still greater courtesy and consideration.

This problem is not new. It has been known to be an issue for some time. We need to see it resolved. Now.

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10 Comments on “Getting the visa”

  1. Aoife Citizen Says:

    I don’t understand this; our whole visa system is seems constructed around notions of suspicion and insularity, our immigration service is even called island. Why is this, our economy is founded on confidence and openness and above and beyond the stupid difficulties, the numerous tales of the rudeness and ignorance encountered by visa and work permit applicants is truly shaming.

  2. I agree, Aoife – it is to me incomprehensible that we are not doing everything to be *the* best country to which they could come.

  3. Aoife Citizen Says:

    Here is another one: why do people with a work permit in the UK need a visa to come here and why oh why aren’t we in Schengen. Surely this is a problem for enterprise as well as for us; there must be South Asian computer people in the UK who need to visit company offices in Dublin.

    • In short, we’re not in Schemgen because the UK isn’t. If we joined Schengen there would have to be passport controls at the Northern Ireland border.

      • Aoife Citizen Says:

        I understand that excuse, but even given that, and given we aren’t in Schengen we should at least have a mini-Schengen with the UK, allowing visa-free travel between us and them for people with residency status in either country.

  4. Aoife Citizen Says:

    The Times today had a letter describing the behaviour of our immigration officials. I have heard this story so many times now in so many versions. It is disgusting and shameful.

  5. Quovadis Says:

    This type of awful behaviour is actually quite common and ranges across a wide range of services. I know some Muslim Iraqi people and can’t believe what they have to put up with official attitudes from a wide range of so called professionals
    GP told Mother with leg walking problem to go to hospital rather than ring for an appointment for her duaghter.(Appointments can be made over the phone)

    Mother refused a letter with the offical terms to confirm daughter had limited English, on basis teacher had left school and details could not be confirmed. Yet teacher was still working in the school!

    I think we will have huge problems in the future if we do not make not it clear that everybody is entitled to the same level of respect and service.

  6. Perry Share Says:

    When I went to Australia in the 1980s the Immigration Department (located in a Melbourne office block fondly referred to as the Green Latrine – think Hawkins House, but pea-coloured) was similarly noted for its less then welcoming attitude. I never felt comfortable with them, and I was English-speaking and white! But last time I had contact with them (about 5 years ago) I would have to say that their attitude (and their location) had both improved considerably. I think they were getting the message about the value of human capital and national image, as well as of good manners! Perhaps our immigration people will develop a similar realisation.

  7. jean Says:

    ROI is introducing visa for citizens of Mauritius starting January 1st 2010. It means that citizens of Mauritius will apply for short C and long D visa through international mail. It takes at least 2 months to have an answer.

    Nobody is going to apply, and Mauritius citizens enjoys now visa free travel to Schengen and UK…there is plenty of place to visit for tourist and for student..plenty of university.

    Also Mauritius citizen living in Ireland will have to apply for a re-entry visa every time they outside ROI. 60 euros visa tax to go to Paris for the week-end meeting some family or to London is a scam.

    You can give your opinion on this issue by voting on the poll on

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