To be the leading independent organisation advocating for the rights of international students in Ireland. ICOS will collaborate with its members, student organisations and government agencies to ensure that international education policy and practice in Ireland is quality driven and remains firmly focused on the educational and social needs of all students.
Who we are:
The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) is an independent non-profit network of educational institutions, NGOs and individuals interested in international education and working with government and other agencies to promote good policies and best practice in relation to the recruitment, access and support of international students in Ireland.
- Promoting the rights and entitlements of international students
- Promoting good practice and professional standards in the quality of service offered to international students in Irish Educational Institutions
- Promoting the role of international education in contributing to global understanding and human development.
The organisation's main activities in pursuit of these aims include policy, research and advocacy work in International Education and the provision of training and information services, including mediation and advice to students in difficulty.
Throughout its history, ICOS has also been invited to provide practical and administrative support to a number of study fellowship programmes bringing international students to Ireland. In particular, ICOS has played a long-standing role in managing aspects of the Irish Aid Fellowship Programme on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Such work has complemented and been enhanced by ICOS' on-going dedication to its original mission to promote the rights and welfare of all international students who choose Ireland as a study destination and to support staff in colleges who work with international students.
ICOS has more than two dozen institutional members, including all seven universities in the Republic of Ireland, many of the Institutes of Technology and all the major independent third level colleges. Its membership also includes the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and a number of NGO and faith organisations, as well as its individual founders.
Members decide on broad strategy, policy and membership issues but delegate day-to-day management to a professional staff based in Dublin, overseen by an elected Executive Committee/Board of Directors.
Beginnings and Development
ICOS was established by the universities and churches in 1970 in consultation with, and financially supported by, the Department of Education, under whose auspices it initially operated. It identified the need and set about the provision of a broad range of services to support international students and international educators in Ireland, primarily in the third level sector. In 1975, ICOS was invited to administer the Irish Aid Fellowship and funding was consequently switched to the Department of Foreign Affairs' Bilateral Aid Programme.
Originally known as the Irish Council for Overseas Students, ICOS assumed its present name on 1st January 1997 while retaining the acronym. The switch came shortly after the organisation celebrated its 25th anniversary and was seen to better reflect its role, scope and the changed environment in which it was operating.
Amid steadily rising international student numbers in Ireland, a 2005 strategic review steered the organisation toward the provision of increased services to members, a more pro-active stand on policy issues and stronger advocacy around the rights and welfare of international students.
These themes are further developed in our 2012-16 Strategic Framework.