Briefly about the secondary education in Ireland

Education in Ireland can easily rival the British one in quality and variety of research and applied programs, and in terms of tuition fees, the country clearly outperforms its neighbor. It doesn't matter whether a student chooses to study IT or agriculture — here any specialty is modern and adapted to the needs of the market. And the open and hospitable Irish people will make everyone feel like they belong on the emerald island.

List and ranking of universities in Ireland

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Advantages of education in Ireland

  1. It is cheaper than in England. The Irish education system is in many ways similar to the British and is not inferior to it in quality. This is a great opportunity to study and live in an English speaking country for 20-30% cheaper than in the United Kingdom.
  2. Prosperous country. Ireland is at the top of The Legatum Prosperity Index. When compiling the list, such indicators as the possibility of doing business, personal freedom, economic growth, medicine, and, of course, education[1] were taken into account.
  3. Combination of tradition and progress. Ireland is traditionally an agricultural country. There are still many farms here, there is always fresh food in the shops, and agricultural education is going strong at universities. At the same time, the IT industry and chemical technologies are actively developing in Ireland. Many specialties can be fully mastered online, which makes the country one of the most progressive in the world.
  4. Inclusiveness. People with disabilities can also get a proper education in Ireland. In each educational institution, a person with a disability is provided with an assistant for taking notes, a sign language interpreter, and adapted training materials.
Disadvantages of education in Ireland

  1. Irish accent of the English language is quite distinctive and difficult for newcomers to understand. At first, it can be difficult for someone who only learned British or American pronunciation to adapt to a new environment. In universities, students are less likely to encounter such a problem, but in everyday life, it will be a common occurrence.
  2. Free education is not available to everyone. Ireland has a wonderful government initiative on free higher education for foreigners (free fees initiative). But, unfortunately, such an opportunity is available strictly for citizens of the European Union and Great Britain. The rest will have to spend several thousand euros or try to get a scholarship to keep the costs down.
  3. The weather. Many go to study in Ireland hoping to live on a green island in the middle of the ocean while enjoying nature. Some of these hopes will come true, however due to the proximity of the ocean in the coastal regions of the country, the climate is very humid and somewhat cool. The weather here changes frequently, it rains constantly with frequent wind gusts.

Tuition fees and education structure in Ireland

Education typeAgeDurationMin. costAvg. costLanguage requirements
Summer camp9+2-12 weeks651 USD/week868 USD/weekA1 — Elementary
Language courses14+1-12 weeks185 USD/week271 USD/weekA1 — Elementary
Secondary education12+6 years15,195 USD/year23,878 USD/yearB1 — Intermediate
Foundation17+1-2 semesters11,939 USD/year16,280 USD/yearIELTS 5.0
Bachelor's18+4 yearsFree18,994 USD/yearIELTS 6.0
Master's20+2 years4,341 USD20,079 USD/yearIELTS 6.5
MBA20+2 years8,683 USD/year20,622 USD/yearIELTS 6.5
Doctoral20+3 years4,341 USD10,000 USD/yearIELTS 6.5
Additional costs

ItemAverage cost
Language exam250 USD
Student visa109 USD
Insurance217 USD/year
Registration fee54 USD
Flight217 USD
Rent488 USD/month
Transportation109 USD/month
Meals195 USD/month
Study materials76 USD/month

Options and schemes for admission to universities in Ireland

Options for admission to Irish universities
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Admission requirements in universities in Ireland

You can enter the majority of universities in Ireland after 11 or 12 years of secondary school. The certificate must have excellent grades in English and mathematics over the past 2-3 years. You will also need an IELTS (preferred) or TOEFL certificate. Some institutions may require non-EU applicants to complete a Foundation program or 1 university year in their home country, but this is rather an exception.

Third-country nationals submit documents directly to the chosen university, so the requirements should be checked with the admissions office of a particular university or college. Due to autonomy, the admission policy for foreigners may differ from institution to institution. EU and UK representatives apply through the Central Application Office.

Usually, universities have two application deadlines: an early one at the beginning of February and a standard one at the end of June. It is recommended to start preparing for admission a year before.

Documents for admission

For bachelor's degree:

  • Completed application on the university website;
  • Certified high school diploma + transcript with grades;
  • Language certificate IELTS or TOEFL;
  • Letter of recommendation;
  • Portfolio and/or interview;
  • International passport.

Additionally for master's and doctoral studies:

  • Bachelor's / Master's diplomas + transcript with grades;
  • CV;
  • Proof of required work experience;
  • Letters of recommendation (2-3);
  • Research proposal.

All documents and/or their copies must have a certified translation into English.

Legalization and recognition of diplomas in Ireland

Irish organization NARIC is responsible for the recognition of foreign education certificates and their compliance with the Irish high school diploma (leaving certificate). As a rule, you can enter the universities of Ireland after grade 11 if that is your school system. However, local educational institutions have the right to take NARIC decisions as a recommendation and establish their own rules for admission of applicants: to take a Foundation program or complete 1 year of university in their home country.

Also, not all universities ask applicants from countries outside the EU to legalize a certificate or diploma — for some, a notarized translation into English is enough. However, Ireland is a part of the Hague Convention, so a university or college may require documents to be legalized with an apostille.

Foundation programs in Ireland

Foundation programs are widely available at universities and colleges in Ireland for international students. It is not mandatory to take such courses, but the administration of universities claims that Foundation graduates, as well as International Baccalaureate holders, have a greater chance of admission, especially to prestigious institutions with high competition. In some cases, Foundation implies subsequent admission to a university or college upon successful completion of the course.

Educational institutions of the country almost always expect high academic results in mathematics and English from applicants. Therefore, preparatory programs are most often aimed at mastering the fundamentals of technical disciplines and/or training before passing the IELTS exam. The duration of Foundation studies can vary from 3 months to an entire academic year. The timing depends on the student's initial level of knowledge. Also, the universities of Ireland offer summer courses: during a long vacation, you can improve your English proficiency and/or study specialized subjects and at the same time get to know the university from the inside.

Colleges in Ireland

Colleges in Ireland can be affiliated with major universities. For example, University College Cork and University College Dublin, together with two other universities, formally form the National University of Ireland. Moreover, they all function as separate independent universities with their own leadership and campuses.

Colleges may be self-sufficient educational institutions, offering bachelor’s and master’s programs for both local and international students, just like any of the universities. The only difference is that colleges have a narrower focus and, accordingly, fewer programs. Most of these colleges in Ireland are private, but this does not always mean that the cost of studying in them is higher.

Further Education Colleges are aimed at early employment. They most often work at high schools under the Leaving Certificate Vocational Program. FE colleges do not accept foreigners.

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Bachelor’s in Ireland

There are 2 types of Bachelor's studies in Ireland. For the Ordinary Bachelor Degree (BA) the student must study for 3 years and gain 180 ECTS. Holders of Honours Bachelor Degree (BA Hons) often study for 4 years and gain 240 ECTS. The latter, as a rule, involves a larger volume of material, high standards of teaching, and full immersion in the academic aspects of the specialty. This degree is usually required for admission to the research master's degree, and sometimes even allows you to immediately go to a doctorate. The Honors Bachelor Degree holders also have more options for Post-graduate Diploma programs. This qualification stands between bachelor's and master's. It will take 1 year to get it.

Documents required for admission

  • Completed application form on the university website;
  • Translated school certificate + transcript with grades;
  • Language certificate IELTS or TOEFL;
  • Letter of recommendation;
  • International passport.

Master's Degree in Ireland

Master's degree in Ireland, as in most European countries, lasts for 1-2 years, depending on the specialty. During this time, the student earns from 60 to 120 ECTS credits. There are 2 types of master's:

  • Taught Masters Degree which includes a fixed curriculum and thematic lectures and seminars before the student begins to write a research paper;
  • Research Masters Degree does not involve compulsory group classes. A student devotes all the time to scientific activities, actively interacts with laboratory staff, and develops skills for future independent research. Such programs are good preparation for future PhD.
Documents required for admission

  • Completed application form on the university website;
  • Bachelor's degree + transcript with grades;
  • Language certificate IELTS or TOEFL;
  • CV;
  • 2 letters of recommendation;
  • Proof of the required work experience (if necessary);
  • International passport.

Doctorate in Ireland

PhD programs in Ireland last 3-4 years. ECTS credits are awarded only for the taught elements (lectures and seminars), therefore there is no standard amount of credits at this level of education. As in the UK, doctoral students in Ireland are first awarded the title of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and only after successfully passing all exams — a PhD degree.

The country's universities offer not only academic but also professional and practical doctoral programs. The latter implies the active interaction of the young researcher with business representatives, in which new technologies and solutions can be introduced. Also, the supervisor in this case does not have to be from the academic environment.

Documents required for admission

  • Completed application form on the university website;
  • Bachelor's and Master's degree + transcripts with grades;
  • Language certificate IELTS or TOEFL;
  • Research proposal;
  • CV;
  • 2 letters of recommendation;
  • Proof of the required work experience (if necessary);
  • International passport.
Academic career and teaching staff

  • PhD Researcher. Doctoral students are not yet full-fledged academic workers, but they can already receive grants for their research projects and participate in the research of their professors. The Post-doc position can be considered a transitional step between study and work;
  • Lecturer is the first academic career position at an Irish university. The lecturer must have a PhD and have publications in reputable magazines. First, a contract is signed for 1 year. Upon successful completion of the test period, the lecturer continues to work and receives more administrative responsibilities. Salary is 3,039-7,380 USD/month;
  • Senior Lecturer is a promotion that a lecturer can receive with the necessary experience in teaching, research, and administrative work. Salary is 5,752-8,466 USD/month;
  • Associate Professor is an honorary academic position. Its owner is an experienced researcher and teacher, whose work is recognized not only in the country but also abroad. Salary is 7,163-9,985 USD/month;
  • Professor. This title can be obtained thanks to many years of experience and merit in the scientific community, provided that the candidate has not yet reached retirement age. The position is awarded according to the same criteria as the Associate Professor. Salary is 9,768-13,024 USD/month.
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Scholarships and grants at universities in Ireland

Foreigners who are not citizens of the European Union cannot study in Ireland for free. The total cost of education is quite high, however, many educational institutions and the government of the country offer various scholarships, grants, and discounts to foreign applicants. These payments cover up to 50-100% of the tuition fees. Most scholarships are awarded for academic excellence and scientific achievement, and funding opportunities for athletes and artists could often be found. People with disabilities and refugees with official status almost always receive financial aid.

The deadlines for applying for scholarships are set independently by each university. In some cases, the applicant automatically applies for funding, in others, a separate application is required. Also, universities award academic scholarships based on the results of the past academic year.

View university scholarships in Ireland

Student visa to Ireland

To enter Ireland non-EU/EEA students need to obtain a visa: short-term type C for visits up to 3 months and long-term type D for a longer stay. Visa processing costs about 109 USD and takes up to 8 weeks. Documents are submitted online. All of them must be in English or have a certified translation. Check details regarding fees, documents, and the whole application procedure for your country.

Required documents

  • Completed visa application form;
  • International passport (valid 6 months after graduation);
  • Old passports (if any);
  • 2 color photographs 3.5x4.5 cm;
  • Certificate from the place of study;
  • Certificate from the place of employment;
  • Sponsorship letter, bank statement, a certificate from work and sponsor's passport (if the applicant does not pay for the trip himself);
  • An invitation letter from an Irish university;
  • Confirmation of paying tuition fees;
  • Proof of residence in Ireland;
  • Medical Insurance for the entire stay in Ireland[2].

Upon arrival in Ireland, the student must obtain a temporary residence permit. To do this, you need to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau and receive a GNIB-card, which is renewed once a year. You must first open an account with an Irish bank for at least 3,256 USD. The GNIB card does not work as a visa for leaving and re-entering the country — for this Re-Entry Visa is required. In addition, Ireland is not part of the Schengen area, so you will have to issue a separate document to travel to Europe.

Opportunity to work while study

The student visa allows students from overseas to work up to 20 hours a week during studies and full time during vacations. You do not need a separate permit for employment, but you will need to obtain a PPS number. Without it, the employer is not allowed to hire you. You also need an account with an Irish bank to where your salary will be transferred. The minimum wage in Ireland is 10 USD/hour. Typically, students receive up to 16 USD/hour working in the service sector or in junior office positions. Also, during their studies, many get an internship if it is not included in the compulsory program.

As for EU and EEA students, they are allowed to work in Ireland without any restrictions

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Opportunity to stay and immigration to Ireland

In Ireland, there is a standard way to stay in the country after studies (Post Study Pathways). A bachelor's graduate may extend their stay in Ireland to find work for 1 year, Master's graduate — for 2 years. At the same time, the status of the temporary residence permit changes: from student (Stamp 2) to temporary residence permit (Stamp 1G). The total life expectancy in Ireland for study and job search must not exceed 7 years with a bachelor's degree and 8 years with a master's degree. Having found a suitable job, the candidate prepares a work permit at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the fee is 326 USD. After 5 years of living in Ireland on a work visa, a person has the right to apply for citizenship.

Employment prospects and opportunities

  • In Ireland, all conditions have been created for finding a job after graduating from a local university. Even non-EU/EEA nationals have enough time to seek employment: 12 months after bachelor’s and 24 after master’s. There are a lot of labor migrants among the Irish themselves, so they understand more than anyone the importance of work and life abroad and consider candidates of all nationalities on an equal basis.
  • In Europe, a graduate has every chance of getting a job with a diploma from an Irish university: the document is recognized by all developed countries. The most prestigious are UCD and TCD diplomas.
  • Academic career. On average, 20-30% of the teaching staff at universities in Ireland are foreigners[3]. However, this is more typical of large and well-known universities and colleges. They also have the largest number of foreign students who can build an academic career here after graduating from doctoral studies.
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