Around 140 PhD students are due in Shannon today from North Africa to study at the University of Limerick.
The students are being sent here by the Algerian government to take a language course in an arrangement, agreed early last year, and believed to be worth as much as €20m to the university.
The deal came about after the Algerian government decided to move from French to English as the official language of teaching and learning in third level institutions.
The students are coming to Ireland to study because of serious deficiencies with the communications network in their country that precludes them from distance learning.
The students, who are due in Shannon on Air Algérie flight AH-2762 from Algiers this evening, will restrict their movements for the next fortnight as part of Covid-19 protocols. The students have already been self-isolating in Algeria before travelling today.
The University of Limerick said: “In advance of travelling to Limerick, the students have been isolating for 14 days in Algeria and are in possession of a negative PCR test. They will also restrict their movements for a further 14 days on their arrival.”
The students will not be engaging in face-to-face learning in line with current government restrictions.
UL added: “The students are coming to Limerick because the technological infrastructure and internet is not good across Algeria, for electronic access to the library, data bases, and other UL systems.”
Algeria is located at the top of the African continent on the Mediterranean and has a population of the over 43 million people. The country has reported over 104,000 cases of Covid-19 and almost 3,000 deaths.
The students are coming to Limerick to study as part of what was described as a ‘game changing’ deal to help transform higher education in Algeria.
The ground-breaking initiative by the Algerian government to move from French to English as the official language of teaching and learning in third level is to be supported through a specially designed PhD programme offered to visiting students at UL.
UL agreed to facilitate the conversion to English as a teaching medium with the Algerian Ministry of National Education as the country moves to increase the visibility of research in higher education institutions.
The first phase of the project saw 117 PhD students, the majority of whom are female, join the international PhD programme in UL.
Overall the programme will see 400 Algerian PhD students study at UL during the four years of the project in a contract estimated to be worth up to €20 million.