Ireland is one of the best-educated countries in the European Union, and continues to be a destination of choice for international businesses from around the globe, based largely on the quality of Ireland’s education system.
The educational qualifications available in Ireland are recognized throughout the world, and represent a practical and proven gateway to a wide range of university and career choices.
As a country, Ireland has a long history of educating international students and offers a level of educational achievement that ranks with anything in the world.
Politically, Ireland is a safe and stable country, with a vibrant, young and multi-cultural population. A common Irish greeting is “A hundred thousand welcomes”, and it is rightly marketed around the world as a particularly friendly and open country.
Ireland is a high-tech hub for Europe and the wider world, with major technological companies such as Intel, Google, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, Hewlett Packard having their European headquarters in the country.
Benefits of studying in Ireland
- Ireland degrees are recognized world wide
- Ireland is an English-speaking country with a long tradition of providing education for international students.
- There are many specialist centres at Irish universities and Institutes of Technology, which have cutting-edge facilities and technologies to provide the skills and training that students need for access to ‘high-value’ employment after graduation.
- Ireland offers a modern and multifaceted education system, which combines the best parts of Ireland’s rich heritage with its thriving, technologically adept society and a unique perspective on the future.
The Irish education system
There are numerous types of higher education institutions in Ireland:
- Universities – fully recognised internationally; seven universities are located in Ireland and two are in Northern Ireland.
- Institutes of technology – provide education and training in areas such as business, science, engineering, linguistics and music. They offer higher certificate awards, as well as undergraduate, postgraduate, Masters and Doctoral programmes.
- Colleges of education – teacher training institutions, separated into primary and secondary-level colleges.
- NUI-recognised colleges – The National University of Ireland (NUI), a federal university, recognises five colleges, including the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the National College of Art and Design and the Institute of Public Administration.
- State-aided institutions – a range of establishments offering many different courses. They are given some funding from the state.
- Private colleges – mainly provide more vocational programmes for industries such as catering, business studies, law and art.
Over the next two decades the Irish higher education system will undergo major reorganisation based on recommendations by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).
The entry requirements for postgraduate study differ from university to university, course to course. However, most courses require an undergraduate degree, usually a minimum of a 2:2, in a related discipline. Some courses may require a 2:1 and this higher grade may increase your chances of gaining entry onto the more popular courses.
Make sure you understand the requirements for the specific course that interests you before applying and contact the institution to clarify if necessary.
Citizens of the European Union (EU) are entitled to attend university in Ireland or any EU country (this means the 27 member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The same conditions apply to all EU citizens whether a national of the country or not. This means that you are not required to pay higher course fees than Irish students and you are entitled to apply for any grants available to help with tuition fees.
Postgraduate course fees in Ireland are set each year and will differ from institution to institution but costs can be considerably higher for non-EU students.
Ireland also operates a free fees scheme for undergraduate study, whereby students attending publically funded courses do not have to pay tuition fees; this is also available to EU nationals who meet a range of other criteria. For more information, see Citizens Information – Third-Level Student Fees and Charges .
Funding to study in Ireland
The Irish Student Grant Scheme is split into two parts: maintenance grants; and fee grants.
Maintenance grants go towards students’ general living costs and are usually means tested. They also have a number of conditions based on nationality, residence and immigration status.
Fee grants are designed to cover students’ tuition fees, cost of field trips or student contribution. Eligibility of EU students is also subject to stringent requirements.
Other institutions may offer separate grants or bursaries.
Postgraduates may receive financial assistance with the cost of tuition fees but are not eligible for a maintenance grant.
This kind of funding can be prone to change and you may not be eligible if you are an EU student who hasn’t lived in Ireland before. To check what assistance you’re entitled to, visit Citizens Information – Grants for Students in Further and Higher Education or Student Finance Ireland . Non-EU/European Economic Area (EEA) students are ineligible for Student Grant Scheme funding.
Irish exchanges and placements
Students attending UK universities can take part in the EU’s education, training and youth support programme Erasmus+ . The scheme replaces its predecessor ‘Erasmus’ and offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to millions of young people, students and adults. Opportunities last from three months to one academic year.
Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative to any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation actively involved in education and training.
Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in Ireland. Check that your university is involved in the programme and offers the Erasmus+ scheme in your subject. Speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university about available opportunities.
As an EU citizen, you are permitted to live in any EU country while studying as long as you:
- are studying for more than three months;
- are enrolled at an approved university/other educational institution;
- have sufficient income (from any source) to live without needing income support;
- have comprehensive health insurance cover.