Study in Ireland


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Image of four rings with "high quality, safe, and secure" text, symbolizing studying in Ireland.

Ireland’s worldwide reputation for high quality education is built on a solid foundation of commitment to excellence. Ireland is a beautiful island, combining contemporary modern cities with an unspoilt countryside, offering cityscapes steeped in history and landscapes lush with a rich natural habitat. Renowned for friendliness, our safe, English-speaking country offers the warmest of welcomes to students from all over the world.

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Why choose Ireland for education abroad? Top 7 reasons

A Friendly, Safe Country

It is not just us saying it! Ireland was voted by Lonely Planet as the world’s friendliest country in 2008 and 2010 and was ranked 12th in the 2009 Global Peace Index. International students enrich campus communities countrywide. Our hospitable nature, coupled with an unrivalled sense of fun, ensures living in Ireland is an unforgettable experience. Moreover, the island’s varied environment is ideal for many outdoor pursuits such as climbing, water sports, and all kinds of ball and team sports. Furthermore, it’s easy to explore Europe from an Irish base with low-cost, frequent flights making trips affordable.

English-Speaking Country

Ireland is an English-speaking country with close cultural, economic, and educational links with the English-speaking world, especially with the UK – our next-door neigh bour – and with the USA. With 36% of the population under the age of 25, Ireland is one of the most exciting places in the English-speaking world to be a student.

Irish Education System

Ireland has a long and honorable tradition in education. As a result of sustained investment in this area, Ireland now has one of the highest educational participation rates in the world – 81% of Irish students complete second-level and approximately 60% go on to higher education. This dynamic, educated population has made its mark at home and abroad, with international companies looking to Ireland again and again when hiring graduates for top-class positions.

Structure of the Education System

Responsibility for education lies within the Department of Education and Skills. It administers all aspects of education policy, including curricula, syllabi, and national examinations. Attendance at full-time education is compulsory in Ireland from six to fifteen years of age and is free in the majority of schools and at undergraduate third-level. Education is considered a fundamental right under our constitution.

The Irish Education System was traditionally divided into three basic levels: Primary (8 years), Secondary (5 or 6 years), and Higher Education, which offers a wide range of opportunities from post-secondary courses, to vocational and technical training, to full degrees, and the highest postgraduate levels. In recent years, the focus has expanded to include pre-school education and adult and further education, as the concept of lifelong learning becomes reflected in the education opportunities available within the Irish education system.

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Overview of the Irish education system

Academic Requirements

Access to third-level education is highly competitive in Ireland. Students compete for entry based on results achieved in the Irish Leaving Certificate Examination. Students are graded on their six best subject scores. Entry requirements for courses may vary from year to year, depending on the number of places available and the number of applicants. Thus, there exists a great deal of competition for the more sought-after programs.

Options for Overseas Students

a) Attend secondary school in Ireland: Complete the Leaving Certificate Examination with Irish students. This route is chosen by a number of students who commonly take the examination in conjunction with English language tuition.

b) Undertake recognized public examinations in their own countries: This is a more common route. It is essential that every applicant checks that the educational qualifications they are presenting are adequate to satisfy entry requirements. To have a realistic prospect, these results should be very good. For example, for medicine, three good ‘A’ Level passes (grades A/B) or the equivalent in relevant subjects are required. The minimum requirement for most degree-level programs is three grade ‘C’s at A level or equivalent. If there is any doubt about the acceptability of an applicant’s qualifications, clarification should be sought in good time from the particular third-level institution.

As English is the language of instruction at all Irish Institutions of higher education, students must demonstrate proficiency in English to be accepted for a third-level program. Generally, the required minimum score in TOEFL is 550. Many Ireland universities and colleges provide English language training programs for intending students. Furthermore, there are over 110 private English language training schools throughout the country that run both short and long-term courses.

English Language Requirement

In the case of all applications, either through the CAO or directly to the college, evidence must be provided of competence in the English language. The list below indicates the minimum standards in English language which should be met. In certain circumstances, results in examinations other than those outlined below may be accepted as proof of competence:

Examination Level Required
Irish Leaving Certificate in English Ordinary level grade D
GCSE English Language Grade C
GCE O-Level English Language Grade C
University of Cambridge Pass in Use of English Examination
TOEFL 220(computer based test) 550 (paper based test)
IELTS Composite score of 6.5 with not less than 6.0 in any one component
Cambridge Proficiency Grade C
Cambridge Advanced Grade A
ARELS oral examinations Pass
ETAPP Grade C1

Fees & Living Expenses

The main costs that students can expect to incur while studying in Ireland include tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses. These vary considerably depending on the course, the institution and the lifestyle of the student. The figures given below provide a guideline for budgeting. Costs do not remain static, so it is important to double check fees with the Institution(s) you are considering applying to, and to ask their advice on other living costs.


Tuition fees vary depending on the institution and the study programme. An example of tuition fees for 2008/2009 for undergraduate, non-E.U. students at a third level institution are as follows:

Course Average Fees (Euro)*
Medicine and related €29,000 – €45,000
Engineering €9,100 – €20,300
Science & Technology €9,100 – €20,300
Business and related €9,100 – €16,500
Arts & Humanities €9,100 – €15,500

These figures serve as an approximate guide only, for exact fee details contact the relevant institution directly.

Living Expenses

Living expenses will differ depending upon the location of the institution, the type of accommodation preferred and on the personal expenditure of the student. To give some idea of the total cost involved, the following approximate figures – at 2008 rates – are given as a guide to overall expenses On average we estimate that a student will spend between €7500 and €12,000 per year depending on location and lifestyle.

Expenses Euros
Textbooks €650
Accommodation €3000- €5150
Food and Household €2500-€3500
Other Living Expenses Travel, Health,Insurance, Social life, Communications Miscellaneous expenses €1500- €2500 (depending on location and lifestyle)

Please note that all the above figures are approximations as some students will live on less and some on more depending on their allowance.

Accommodation Options

All third level institutions will have an accommodation officer or advisor who can provide information for you about accommodation on, or close to your campus. The following options are generally available:

Self catering accommodation includes a large number of options from a room in a shared house to a large private apartment. While self catering accommodation can offer full independence, the prospective student should be aware that there can be significant set-up costs associated with self catering accommodation. You will be required to pay the first month’s rent and a deposit in advance. The deposit is normally the same amount as the monthly rental figure. Minimum lease period is usually 1 year and if you vacate prior to this period you will be liable to pay rent for the remaining period. Please note that miscellaneous items might have to be purchased e.g. crockery, cooking utensils, bed linen etc.

Most universities and a number of other colleges offer on-campus accommodation. This can range from a single, or shared room in a large apartment to a one-bedroomed apartment. Your institution of choice will be able to provide you with full details of the options on offer.

Many international students, particularly in the first year, opt to choose family based accommodation. This means a private room in a family home where two meals (generally breakfast and evening meal), utility costs and laundry services are provided. Again the institution you are applying to will have lists of experienced families in the area who provide approved accommodation for international students.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs associated with studying in any country and these include food, laundry, household expenses, clothes, textbooks, transport & travel, communication, health care, and of course socializing! These costs vary form area to area and from person to person. For further details on these and other living expenses which you may incur while studying in Ireland, check the website of your institution of choice.

After Graduation

After completing your studies in Ireland a student is entitled to get 6 months of graduate visa which allows them to work fulltime and also look for a relevant job of their field. If you get a job offer of 30,000 euros/year, you can apply for work permit, which is valid for 2yrs can be extended.

For international students with qualifications in sought-after subjects, there are good opportunities to remain and work in Ireland. The Irish government is actively trying to attract qualified workers from abroad to fill shortages in certain areas within the Irish workforce. These include the IT, computing, construction, medical, social care and science areas. International students who graduate with good qualifications in these disciplines should be in a good position to commence employment in Ireland when their studies are complete.

Graduates wanting to work in a particular profession, such as surgery, nursing or physiotherapy, must register with the relevant professional associations and have attained all the necessary qualifications and training to meet Irish standards and conditions.

Those graduates in career areas not targeted by the Irish government may find it more difficult to secure employment in Ireland. However, if your qualifications, skills and motivation are sufficient to impress an Irish employer to submit a work visa or work authorisation on your behalf, there is every chance you will be granted permission to remain and work in the country.

It is important to note that the employment market and economic conditions are subject to change over time, and conditions in four or five years’ time may be different to the current situation.


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