Study in Ireland as an International Student
10 Key Facts
- There are 9 universities in Ireland and 14 technology institutes. The quality of education is excellent; Ireland’s universities are consistently highly ranked and qualifications are internationally recognised.
- There is a network of over 35,000 international students from all over the world in Ireland so you will find a diverse community eager to explore the country and its many delights with you.
- Many top global companies – Google, PayPal, Airbnb, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay, Microsoft – have their European headquarters in Dublin so there are some fantastic internship opportunities available
- Ireland is a beautiful and welcoming country with easy access by plane or ferry to the rest of Europe. It has rich historical, cultural, musical and sporting traditions and the Irish are known for being very sociable. Despite the unpredictable weather and high rainfall, there are many outdoor adventures to be had and students who love nature and wildlife will find plenty to enjoy. Everyone should invest in high quality wet weather gear though!
- EU/EEA students should apply via the Central Applications Office (CAO) alongside Irish students. Admissions is based on a points system and applicants are asked to rank their top 10 courses in order of preference – the genuine preferred order is very important! You should place the schools you really want to attend at the top and then have some ‘safety’ options further down your ranking list. Universities release the first round of placings in the second week of August.
- Non EU/EEA students apply directly to the universities. They will need to submit a range of supporting documentation, which may include: letters of recommendation, a personal statement, test scores, academic transcripts, and a CV/resume. Deadlines vary, but applications are processed relatively quickly and applicants should have a decision within 3-4 weeks.
- The majority of students begin their programmes in September and finish in June, with breaks for Christmas and Easter. Some courses will also have a spring intake.
- Study is free for citizens of Ireland, EU/EEA countries and Switzerland. Despite Brexit, tuition is also free for UK citizens providing they meet certain criteria.
- Tuition fees for international students vary widely depending on the course – 9,850 to 55,000 Euros per year. Accommodation ranges from 350-700 Euro per month, though can be more for private accommodation in more expensive locations. Student halls can be difficult to get for international students so plan well in advance!
- International students engaged in full-time study can work while they are in Ireland. The minimum wage is currently 9.15 Euro per hour and you can work up to 20 hours during term time and up to 40 hours during the summer and Christmas vacations. Many courses also offer internships as part of the degree programme. The Third Level Graduate Scheme Permission allows non EA/EEA students who have graduated from Irish higher education institutes to remain in Ireland for 24 months to seek employment.
A Brief Overview of the 9 Irish Universities
- Trinity College Dublin
Ireland’s oldest surviving university and it’s most prestigious. Admission is based completely on academic merit with particular strengths in law, literature and the humanities. One of Europe’s most international universities with over 30% of students coming from outside of Ireland. The college grounds are amongst the most beautiful in the world and have starred in a number of films. Most undergraduate programmes are 4 years and Trinity also offers a highly popular dual degree programme with Columbia University in New York City.
- University College Dublin
Irelan’s largest university with over 33,200 students. The campus is located around 4km to the south of the city centre and this research-intensive institution is consistently rated top in Ireland for graduate employability in the QS Rankings. 8,500 international students from over 130 countries take advantage of UCD’s flexible curriculum – the UCD Horizons Programme allows students to study other subject areas beyond the scope of their degree programmes.
- University College Cork
Located in Ireland’s second largest city, University College Cork has a student body of 23,000+ and has been named Irish University of the Year by The Sunday Times on 5 occasions. With 3,000+ international students from over 104 countries it is considered one of Ireland’s leading research institutes and has received numerous awards for its strong digital and social media presence – it actually had the first website in Ireland back in 1991! The UCC Teaching Hospital is the largest medical centre in Ireland and in 2020 UCC became the first university in the world to receive a Green Flag from the Foundation of Environmental Education highlighting its commitment to sustainability and the environment. UCC has been in operation since 1849.
- National University of Ireland, Galway
Sunday Times Irish University of the Year 2022, NUI Galway has 18,000+ students and over 50 degree programmes on offer for undergraduate students. It has a vibrant research culture and has steadily been increasing its global impact. Over 1,200 international students can select programmes across the 4 faculty areas of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; Business, Public Policy and Law; Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; and Science and Engineering.
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
With its main campus in central Dublin, RCSI is Ireland’s first private university and provides a broad range of medical education in multiple countries. It has the largest medical school in Ireland with 5 or 6 year undergraduate programmes and a 4 year Graduate Entry Programme. It also offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Pharmacy, Biomolecular Sciences, Physiotherapy, Nursing, Midwifery, Dentistry, Sports and Exercise Science, and more. The student body is over 4,000 students with 60+ nations represented. RCSI has campuses in Malaysia, Bahrain and Dubai, and students can study abroad with other medical schools around the world, including Columbia University, John Hopkins University and Mayo Clinic.
- University of Limerick
With over 11,000 full time undergraduate students – including over 2,400 international students – forward thinking UL is well known for its co-operative education programme which allows students up to 8 months of work experience as part of their degree – the first programme of this kind in Ireland. The Kemmy Business School is the first European university to have a custom designed campus trading floor and UL is known for its excellent sporting facilities – the on campus University Arena is Ireland’s largest indoor sporting complex! UL is also home to the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, and the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
- Maynooth University
Maynooth is Ireland’s smallest university and its only university town. It is also Ireland’s fastest growing university with a current population of over 14,000 students spread over two connected campuses. It offers a wide range of courses through three faculties: Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy; Science and Engineering, and Social Sciences. There are a few opportunities for students to study across disciplines. Maynooth emphasises the importance of critical thinking and communication in its teaching.
- Dublin Institute of Technology
Ireland’s first technological university with over 29,700 students from 85+ countries. TU Dublin is currently spread over 5 locations in the city and offers over 200 programmes through 3-4 year degree programmes. Recognised for excellent teaching in the STEM fields, it also has strong programmes in marketing, hospitality, music, optometry, and digital media and journalism. There are extensive port-time learning opportunities.
- Munster Technological University
A newly formed university created by the merging of two established institutes of technology, MTU has 18,000+ students spread over 6 campuses in Cork and Kerry. It currently offers over 140 courses and programmes and intends to have a strong entrepreneurial focus, investing in building cross-sector relationships with a wide range of industry partners.