Ireland is an increasingly popular destination for students from all over the world. The friendliness and hospitality for which Irish people are renowned, contribute to the ease with which overseas students adapt to the way of life and in particular, student life.
Having developed from being a predominantly agricultural economy in the 1950s Ireland is now a thoroughly modern nation with well developed manufacturing and international services sectors and has the highest economic growth rate in the E.U. – hence the title ‘The Celtic Tiger’. The educated workforce produced in Ireland by the education system has been a key factor in attracting international investment to the country and in the growth of the modern technological industries which have helped make Ireland one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
The international dimension of education is important in Ireland, which has one of the most trade dependent economies in the world. The Irish Government has invested in the internationalisation of our education system, both to promote the international activities and linkages of our colleges and to encourage students from overseas countries to study in Ireland.
Higher education in Ireland is judged by international standards and the employment market for graduates is a global one. Overseas students receive a quality education in a friendly environment. They in turn enrich the educational experience of our own students and bring an international dimension to our campuses. Lifelong friendships and networks are formed between Irish and overseas students which later enhance the cultural and trade relationships between our countries.
There are nine universities in Ireland – 2 in Northern Ireland and 7 in the Republic. The University of Dublin, Trinity College (TCD), founded in 1592, is the oldest university in Ireland. The National University of Ireland (NUI) is a federal institute consisting of four constituent universities; University College Dublin, National University of Ireland Dublin; University College Cork, National University of Ireland Cork; National University of Ireland Galway and National University of Ireland Maynooth. NUI also has three recognised colleges: National College of Art and Design (NCAD), The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and St. Angela’s College of Education. The University of Limerick (UL) and Dublin City University (DCU) are our newest universities and were founded in 1989. The two universities in Northern Ireland are: the University of Ulster (UU) and the Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB).
In addition to offering degrees at Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate levels, over a full range of disciplines, the universities and colleges also undertake research in many areas. Undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas are also available and universities are involved in continuing and distance education programmes (aimed mainly at Irish residents).
Higher Education in Ireland consists of the universities (with associated colleges of education), institutes of technology, and a number of private independent colleges. The universities and institutes of technology are autonomous and self-governing, but are substantially state-funded
Institutes of Technology
There are currently 14 Institutes of Technology located throughout the Republic offering programmes at degree, national diploma and national certificate levels in a wide variety of subjects. Their qualifications are externally validated by Ireland’s national certification authority, which ensures that their qualifications reach the highest international standards. Many of the Institutes of Technology also run postgraduate diploma and degree programmes, both taught and research.
Colleges of Education
There are five Colleges of Education for primary school teachers. These colleges offer three year full time courses leading to a B.Ed degree which is the recognised qualification for primary school teaching.
Independent Third Level Colleges
These colleges offer programmes leading to certificates, diplomas and degrees, which have received recognition by Ireland’s national certification authority or from other external accreditation institutions (such as universities). Courses on offer include: Accountancy and Business Studies, Law, Humanities, Hotel & Catering, Tourism Studies and Art.
Study Programmes Available to Overseas Students
In addition to full undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, Irish universities offer a wide selection of study programmes involving credit transfer arrangements with overseas universities and colleges. These range from Summer programmes, to semester programmes, to full academic year programmes in a broad spectrum of faculties. These programmes include:
Junior Year Abroad (JYA) and Study Abroad Programmes (mainly aimed at non E.U. students)
SOCRATES (Applicable to citizens of Member States of the E.U. as well as to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). SOCRATES aims to promote the concept of lifelong learning in response to constantly evolving education and training needs. There is a variety of programmes promoted by SOCRATES, including:
ERASMUS (higher education)
The main costs that students can expect to incur while in Ireland include fees*, accommodation and living expenses. These vary considerably depending on the course, the institution and the lifestyle of the student. *Third level education in Ireland is free for students who are first-time undergraduates and,are E.U. nationals and have been ordinarily resident in an E.U. Member State for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third-level course. The universities and colleges have a small number of scholarships for overseas students. Students are advised to contact the institution directly to obtain Application.
Studying overseas is a very enriching experience however it can be quite costly, hence it is worth spending time and consideration choosing the most suitable programme and most appropriate institution.