Ireland’s higher education system consists of universities, institutes of technology and private colleges. Ireland is an increasingly popular destination for international students, with Irish universities dedicating more resources to attracting international students in recent years. This resulted in the number of international students coming to Ireland increasing by 45% between 2013 and 2017. Entry requirements for international students are determined by each institution and tend to be based on school examination performance and English language aptitude. There are eight universities in Ireland and eleven institutes of technology. There are also a number of medical and teaching institutes that are affiliated with Irish universities. Specialist education is provided by third-level institutions in fields such as art, business, and law. All Irish higher education institutions are open to international students. For more information, prospective students should visit the Education in Ireland website, linked to the Irish Department of Education and Skills at https://www.educationinireland.com.
Irish higher education institutions offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees and offer over 5,000 internationally recognised qualifications. All students classed as EU applicants, including Irish students, apply for undergraduate courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO), unless the institution states otherwise. The CAO provides students with an application pack, which lists all available courses and information on how to apply. Applications to the CAO may be submitted online. It is important to note that a student’s status (EU/non-EU) cannot be changed during their chosen programme of study.
Entry requirements vary from year to year, depending on the number of places and applicants, and there is a high level of competition for the most popular programmes, including medicine and law. For undergraduate students applying to study medicine in Ireland, there is an additional assessment test called the HPAT-Ireland examination. The score achieved in his examination is added to the student’s national exam score to create a total score. International students must show a proficiency in English to be accepted to all higher education programmes in Ireland and many Irish universities provide English language training courses for prospective students.
Tuition costs vary depending on the course, the institution and the student’s applicant status. The Irish government pays tuition fees for international students who are EU citizens or who have worked full-time in the EU for three of the five preceding years. However, these students are required to pay a so-called “student contribution” on entry to their course, which currently stands at approximately €3,000. Fees for non-EU students range from €9,000 to €55,000 per year but international students are advised to check with their institution of choice, as tuition costs in Ireland change regularly. There are hundreds of scholarships available to international students from a variety of sources, including the Irish government, Irish higher education institutions and other groups. International students are advised to contact the institution or organisation directly to obtain more information on scholarships.
Information for International Students
International students classed as non-EU students should apply directly to the institution of their choice, where all applications are assessed individually. International students from certain countries will require a student visa and may be required to provide evidence that they will be able to financially support themselves during their time in Ireland.