IRELAND AND EDUCATION
With one of the best educational systems in Europe, Irish higher education institutions are internationally recognised as centres of excellence in many disciplines. So it’s no surprise that Ireland is a popular destination for students from all over the world who want to take advantage of the higher education standard and share in the unique cultural experience. Irish universitiesrank impressively well at world level, and the country is understandably a popular choice for international students. Higher education in Ireland consists of universities, specialist colleges (offering courses in a single subject area), and institutes of technology.
The latter do not just offer courses in technology subjects, but also a wide range of vocational programs, in subjects including hospitality, healthcare, pharmacy, media, textiles, marketing, and many more.
Ireland’s seven public universities are all ranked within the world’s top 700 in the 2012/13QS World University Rankings, as is one of the 14 institutes of technology. Three make the top 200: Trinity College Dublin (TCD) at 67, University College Dublin (UCD), 131, and University College Cork, 190.
Ireland also has seven private-sector colleges, ranging in size from the tiny Burren College of Art, which has only about 200 students, to the huge Dublin Business School, which has a student community of about 9,000.
This varied selection of higher education institutes combines with historic cities, beautiful countryside and Ireland’s unique culture to make the country a highly attractive study destination.
If that’s not enough, there’s an extra incentive for students coming from within the EEA or Switzerland, who qualify for the Free Fees Initiative – this means undergraduate courses at Ireland’s public institutes is free, apart from a relatively minor ‘registration fee’.
FACT ABOUT IRELANDS
- Capital city is Dublin
- Currency is the euro
- One land border, with Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK
- Coastal borders with the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and St George’s Channel – all part of the Atlantic Ocean
- First official language is Irish, also known as Irish Gaelic, butEnglish (the second official language) is more widely used
- The Irish name for Ireland is Eire (pronounced AIR-uh)
- Famous Irish authors include Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, Maeve Binchy and Roddy Doyle
- Famous Irish playwrights include George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde
- The most successful country in the Eurovision Song Contest, having won seven times
- Known for producing whiskey and Guinness (a dry stout beer)
- Traditional sports include Gaelic football and hurling
- Major agricultural products include potatoes, barley, turnips, beef and sugar beets
- The country’s huge annual celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day (17 March) has spread across the world
- A reputation for being rainy, which is justified; depending on the region, it rains between 150 and 225 days a year, according to the Irish Meteorological Service
TheIrish capitalhas by far the greatest concentration of universities and colleges – among the reasons for its top-ten placing in the 2012QS Best Student Cities.
A popular city-break destination, there’s certainly no shortage of things to see and do in Dublin – from admiring beautiful medieval architecture and retracing the steps of famous novelists, to visiting the Guinness Brewery and discovering the meaning of ‘craic’ in one of the city’s lively pubs.
The city is known for being expensive, and living costs are higher here than elsewhere in Ireland. But Dublin is certainly not the world’s priciest student destination – and it gives a lot back.
Parallel with Dublin, but on the west coast instead of the east, lies Galway – home to the National University of Ireland, Galway, and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology.
Combining beautiful beaches with a buzzing city center, Galway offers all the traditional (and modern-day) Irish experiences you could want: cobbled streets, brightly painted buildings and heaving pubs hosting throbbing live music.
The city is known as a hub for arts and culture, and hosts popular annual events such as the Galway Arts Festival and Cúirt International Festival of Literature.
Also well known for its cultural activity is Cork City, located on the south coast and home to University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology. Since polishing itself up for its time as the European Capital of Culture in 2005, Cork has arguably never looked better, and =its combination of historic architecture and vibrant cultural life makes it a popular stop for tourists.
There’s a good selection of nightlife, from traditional pubs to trendy bars, and as usual in Ireland, stunning countryside is never far away.
Admission & Visa Process:
Undergraduate student from countries within the EEA and Switzerland can benefit from the Free Fees Initiative. This means you’ll only need to pay a ‘registration fee’, which varies between institutions, but is capped €2,250 (US$2,950) for the 2012/13 academic year.
For students outside the EEA/Switzerland, tuition fees vary depending on both the institution and the subject. For 2012/13, the government organization Education in Ireland advises undergraduate students to expect to pay €31,000-€45,000 for medicine and related subjects, €9,100-€20,300 for engineering, €9,100-€16,500 for science and technology, and €9,100-€15,500 for business and arts and humanities.
Student grants are available through the centralized Student Grant Scheme, and scholarships are offered by the government, individual universities, and independent organizations. Check with your university to find out which you may be eligible for.
EU students applying for undergraduate courses should use the Central Applications Office (CAO). The usual deadline for online applications is 20 January, and for paper applications is 1 February. However, ‘late’ online applications can be made until 1 February, and paper applications until 1 May.
There is a small application fee, ranging from €30 (US$40) for an early online application, up to €80 (US$105) for a late paper application.
Entry requirements vary, but proficiency in the English language is a set requirement. For students who need a little extra practice, preparatory English courses are available at many universities, and also at separate English tuition schools.
Students from within the EU, EEA or Switzerland do not need a visa to study in Ireland. There are also a number of other countries whose citizens do not need a visa – a full list is provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Students from countries exempt from visas should bring proof of acceptance onto a course when entering the country, and register with immigration authorities if intending to stay in Ireland for more than 90 days.
Those who need to apply for a visa should do so online, via the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. The process requires students to submit:
- A letter of acceptance onto a course offered by a recognized institution
- Evidence that fees have been paid (though not more than $7,000 before the visa is issued)
- Evidence of medical insurance
- Evidence of sufficient funds to cover living expenses – currently set at a minimum of $7,000 per year
- Passport which is valid for at least six months after the course will end