By Eimear Rabbitt, DIT Intern

An Taoiseach Brian Cowen has recently announced a new education initiative to bring the sons and daughters of Irish emigrants all over the world to study in Ireland.
The idea behind The Ireland Homecoming Study Programme (IHSP) is to encourage the descendants of Irish nationals, and non-resident passport holders living outside the European Union to return to Ireland for their higher education studies.

The Pilot programme, which is sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, is hoping to attract descendants of the Irish Diaspora to study in eight different Institutes around Ireland.

The eight participants are all third level Institutes of Technology and are as follows; GMIT (Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology) as well as Institutes located in Athlone, Blanchardstown, Carlow, Cork, Dundalk, Sligo, and Waterford.

The initiative was launched in response to information from the Emigrant Advice Network, which confirms that there are over 3.1 million non-resident Irish passport holders.

The programme is aiming to attract 500 students to the Irish Isle over the next three years at an individual cost of ?5,950 per year for each student, which the government hopes will inject an estimated ?10million into a flailing Irish economy.

Although entry fees for the programme may appear steep, successful participants of the ISHP will be offered tuition costs of up to 40% less than the standard rate for non-EU students. Successful participants will be able to choose from a vast array of courses ranging from undergraduate degrees to shorter study course, all of which provide internationally recognised and fully transferable qualifications.

It seems that everyone is a winner with the programme providing a basis for descendants to study in the European Union and take advantage of Irelands excellent third level reputation, while promoting Irish culture and trade at the same time.

Participants will have the chance to live with Irish families during their stay in Ireland, further strengthening their cultural link with Ireland.

The Irish Diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Continental Europe and contains over 70 million people in total.

"This initiative will offer a practical benefit to the off-spring of Irish people abroad by allowing their children obtain an exceptional Irish education at highly competitive rates," said programme creator and co-ordinator, Brian McNamara of Waterford IT (WIT).