ENTERPRISE Ireland (EI) spent almost €1.6m on executive training courses in the US and Dubai during 2008, despite the existence of similar courses in Ireland, according to figures seen by the Sunday Tribune.
The courses are arranged under EI's Leadership4Growth programme.
Under the programme, Irish chief executives obtain subsidised executive training on special EI-devised courses, with the state picking up between 50% and 70% of the total bill.
The figures show that EI spent €1.1m on sending 30 chief executives from Irish companies to a course at Stanford University, California, in 2008, at an average cost to the taxpayer of around €36,700 each.
The tuition fees for an MBA at Stanford, one of America's top universities, are around €36,100.
Meanwhile, EI spent a further €490,560 on a course for 29 construction-industry chiefs in Dubai during the year.
The course, which is run by an affiliate of Duke University, another major US institution, also includes modules in eastern Europe.
According to EI, the courses are designed to "provide Irish CEOs with the specialised management tools that will help their companies develop as recognised global leaders in their particular sectors".
"During the year-long programme, the participants access world-class executive education that challenges them and equips them with the most up-to-date thinking around business development and leadership concepts."
When asked about why these courses could not be run in Ireland, where institutions such as the UCD Smurfit Business School run similar programmes, an EI spokeswoman told the Sunday Tribune that the locations involved had been selected following an EU tender process.
She said that the construction course involved trips to Dubai, Warsaw and London because each represented "an international location that provided the participants with significant business development opportunities".
In terms of the lack of any accreditation for course participants, she said that the EI programme was "very practical and results-orientated rather than academic, which wouldn't lend itself to that type of academic accreditation".