Sunday, 27 August 2017

Poor School Broadband holding kids back

 Pure Telecom today announces the results of a survey, which shows that 46% of Irish children are being held back in their educational achievement due to poor internet at school, according to parents. The online research*, carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Pure Telecom, surveyed parents of primary and secondary school children from a group of 1,001 adults.

The survey revealed that two-thirds of parents (67%) believe the internet supports children’s learning – and many consider it a factor in their choice of schools. Some 34% of parents would consider moving their child to a school with better internet availability if their current one didn’t have satisfactory broadband access or speeds.

The research also found that 16% of the typical child’s homework relies on the internet. On average, parents spent €213 per child on internet-connected devices and tools intended for schoolwork this year.

Almost half (48%) of children use laptops or tablets for some or all of their classes, but one-in-four parents (26%) believe their child’s school isn’t doing enough to encourage learning via internet-connected educational resources.

Under the Schools 100Mbps project, the Government rolled out 100Mbps broadband to all 780+ post-primary schools in Ireland. Earlier this year, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., launched the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 Action Plan 2017, which includes €30 million in ICT grants to schools, as well as a programme to enhance high-speed broadband connectivity in primary schools.

Paul Connell, CEO, Pure Telecom, said: “Access to internet-connected digital tools and resources is vital for all children living in a modern society, so it is concerning that so many parents believe their child’s educational achievement is being stunted by poor broadband speeds and access in school. Not surprisingly, our research showed that the majority of those parents are living in areas outside of Dublin.

“It is great to see the Government investing in a digital strategy for schools including technologies such as interactive screens and cloud-based learning tools. The availability of high-speed broadband in all – not just secondary – schools across Ireland will be crucial to its success.”

“Broadband access is a basic need for all Irish citizens, no matter where they live. But at the moment, the infrastructure isn’t in place to deliver broadband to everyone. We have agreements with several of Ireland’s major wholesale telecoms providers, which allow us to bring broadband to any location that has a fibre network. However, we must rely on the rollout of the National Broadband Plan in order to provide broadband to Ireland’s harder-to-reach locations. Unfortunately, until the National Broadband Plan is implemented, we will continue to see schoolchildren hindered by poor internet speeds and lack of access.”

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Ireland hosts international English language trade mission Ireland hosts international English language trade mission

Marketing English in Ireland (MEI) has hosted an international English language trade mission from China, Russian, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Ukraine and Croatia in a move designed to help increase the number of students from these countries that study English in Ireland each year.

According to Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), the association that represents 66 regulated language schools and colleges nationwide, Ireland is an increasingly popular destination for students from countries such as China, Russia, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Ukraine and Croatia. This international English language trade mission to Ireland was unique in that traditionally such international English language trade missions would take place outside the extremely busy summer period, however it was decided to showcase the facilities and schools available for junior students and summer students, while they were operational in the months of July and August. In addition to the facilities of MEI members schools, a large number of secondary schools are used over the summer period to facilitate the large numbers of international students coming to Ireland.

According to David O’Grady, CEO of Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), “The largest numbers of students that study English in Ireland every year come from Italy and Spain, however there has been really strong growth in the new and emerging markets including China, Russian, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Ukraine and Croatia. It was for this reason that 40 international education agents from these countries were brought to Ireland to meet with a selection of MEI schools and colleges. Locations visited included Cork, Caherciveen, Dublin, Ennis, Galway, Kanturk, Kilkenny, Killarney and Limerick. In total 22 MEI schools and colleges participated and due to the success of the trade mission, it is anticipated that strong students numbers will continue to these areas.”

“Ireland is very attractive for students from these countries, as students get to learn in a friendly environment, while also experiencing culture and family life in Ireland. It is also worth noting that in comparative terms, Ireland is well ahead of the UK, USA, Canada and Australia in terms of international English language students per head of population. In recent years MEI embarked on a targeted outreach to countries with strong growth potential for Ireland and we know from our own data that students from these countries traditionally spend longer in Ireland than other places, thereby contributing more to the Irish economy”, said David O’Grady, CEO of the Marking English in Ireland.

David O’Grady, CEO of the Marking English in Ireland continued, “MEI wanted to showcase our junior/summer programmes & facilities at a time when they were operational. In addition, we wanted to broaden the nationality mix of the summer schools. MEI members usually operate their junior programmes in secondary school facilities that means from end of June to mid August. We chose this period and we targeted agencies from countries not currently very familiar with Ireland as a destination for summer programmes for junior students. MEI are delighted to say that the result was a tremendous success logistically, and from feedback from the international agents and the participating MEI schools. Obviously, the fruits of this success will be in future summer seasons. Because of its success this event will become a feature of our annual marketing programme and we have already started planning next year’s event. This will now become a central part of our strategy to showcase Ireland as a high quality destination for international language students.”

Friday, 25 August 2017

Startup Story - UniBrowse expanding to international markets

A team of Irish 25-year-olds are expanding their tech start-up to international markets to help young people worldwide choose the right third-level course.

UniBrowse was founded by college friends Alan O’Beirne, Kenneth Casey, Walter Holohan and Niall Cronin as an online search engine that makes it easier for school students to find college courses. It launched in Ireland in December 2016.

Now, the company is expanding to Australia, with plans to launch in the UK and USA in the coming months. Co-founders Walter Holohan and Niall Cronin have recently relocated to Australia to oversee operations there.

Announcing the international expansion today (22.08.17), Alan O’Beirne, who leads business development for UniBrowse, said: “Australia is seeing an increase in college drop-out rates, which is resulting in third-level completion rates being at an all-time low.

“From our research, the reason for students dropping out of college in Australia is the same as the reason here in Ireland: school-leavers just aren’t getting the right information when it comes to choosing their college course and they end up in courses that really don’t suit them.”

Inspired by personal experiences

“UniBrowse was born out of our own personal experiences,” said Mr. O’Beirne. “Myself and my three co-founders all struggled with the decision-making process around college courses when we were doing our Leaving Cert several years ago. More recently, I saw how my younger sister struggled to find useful information when she was finishing school last year.

“When you’re finishing school, you feel like you’re being asked to make decisions that will impact on the rest of our life. This is daunting enough without the added complication of trying to sift through hundreds of college courses, some with little to no information available.

“At UniBrowse, we make the college decision-making process much easier, so students feel really informed in advance about what’s involved in the course they’re interested in, and whether it will suit them. We provide a complete bank of undergraduate college courses, and students can search keywords for the course for them. Once they’ve found a course they like the look of, they can click it to find even further information, such as the modules completed throughout the degree and whether an Erasmus overseas placement is an option as part of the course.”

Phase Two and Further Expansion

In addition to international expansion, UniBrowse will launch the second phase of its site here in Ireland next month.

“We’re keeping the exact details under wraps for now, but Phase Two will be targeted at parents,” said Mr. O’Beirne. “The process of finding the right college course isn’t just a stressful time for students, but for their parents too.”

UniBrowse aims to scale up and fast, according to Mr. O’Beirne.

“After we launch in Australia, the UK and US are next on our list. Our vision is to reduce college dropout rates globally and be the industry standard search platform for college courses around the world,” he said. “In addition, while we’re only focusing on undergraduate courses right now, we want to grow to include postgraduate courses too.

“To scale up and produce the amount of research, data and marketing we need to implement our service globally will take a considerable amount of work and we’ll need to hire a strong team to execute our plans but we’re looking forward to it and to bringing UniBrowse worldwide.”

Further information is available at