Known for it’s educational excellence it’s not hard to see why thousands of students flock to Ireland each year. Find out more about Irish universities, tuition fees and visas
You’ll be able to choose from over 5,000 internationally-recognised qualifications, so you’re bound to find a course that suits you. Should you choose to stay after graduation, you’ll have plenty of opportunities as Ireland is home to an impressive number of international companies, with organisations such as Google, Dell, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, GSK and Pfizer all having headquarters in the country.
What’s more the Emerald Isle provides a safe and friendly place to study. Its traditional Gaelic culture and rich history in the arts, coupled with coastal landscapes, unspoiled countryside and metropolitan cities offer endless leisure opportunities.
Higher education in Ireland is provided by a range of institutions, including seven universities, seven Colleges of Education and 14 Institutes of Technology.
Ireland’s seven universities are state funded and include:
- Dublin City University (DCU)
- National University of Ireland, Galway
- National University of Ireland, Maynooth
- Trinity College, Dublin
- University College Cork
- University College Dublin
- University of Limerick.
Five institutions feature in the world’s top 500 according to QS World University Rankings 2020. Trinity College Dublin is the highest entry, at number 108, followed by University College, Dublin (185), National University of Ireland, Galway (259), University College Cork (310) and Dublin City University (429).
Popular student cities include the country’s capital, Dublin, which houses the greatest concentration of universities and colleges. Galway on the west coast and Cork on the south coast are also popular student destinations.
The academic calendar in Ireland reflects that of the UK. You’ll usually start in September, work through to December and then break for Christmas. You’ll resume your studies in January and finish in June/July with a break in between for Easter.
With close to 14,000 students, including more than 2,000 international students each year, UL is a young and enterprising university with a proud record of innovation in education and scholarship.
Degree courses in Ireland
Irish universities offer a range of undergraduate programmes, which can be studied both full and part time. Full-time courses last three years.
Entry requirements vary between institutions and from course to course so check with your chosen university before applying. You’ll usually need to have completed upper secondary education, possess a valid school leaver’s certificate and be able to prove your proficiency in English.
If you are a UK or EU student you will apply for all undergraduate courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Non-EU or international students will need to apply directly to their chosen institution, either online or by downloading an application form and sending it through the post.
To search for undergraduate courses visit Education in Ireland – What can I study?
Irish Masters follow a similar structure to those in the UK and usually take one year to complete. Some research Masters may take two years. You’ll work through modular units of study, completing any necessary assessments, before embarking on a dissertation in your final year.
Entry requirements differ between institutions and courses; however most programmes require a 2:2 undergraduate degree in a related discipline as a minimum.
The majority of postgraduate courses in Ireland are taught in English, so if this isn’t your first language you will need to provide evidence of your proficiency.
Make sure that you understand the entry requirements for the course that interests you before applying. Contact the university to clarify if necessary.
To search for postgraduate courses visit Education in Ireland – What can I study?
Irish Doctoral degrees usually last three or four years full time and you can study both ‘traditional’ and ‘structured’ programmes. The structured PhD has all the same academic components of a traditional PhD but provides an additional level of support by incorporating an organised programme of training and evaluation.
The majority of PhDs are taken at universities, but high-quality programmes are also on offer at Institutes of Technology.
You’ll need an upper class (2:1) Masters in a relevant subject to gain entry onto a Doctoral programme.
Students currently attending a UK university can take part in the European Union’s (EU) education, training and youth support programme, Erasmus+. The scheme offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to many young people, with opportunities lasting from three months to one academic year.
Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative, for any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation that is actively involved in education and training. However, your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in Ireland. Check that your institution is involved in the programme and offers the Erasmus+ scheme in your subject.
This information is still valid following the UK’s decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes happen.
Tuition fees vary widely for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In the majority of cases the cost will depend on your course, your institution and whether you’re classed as a UK, EU or non-EU student. At both study levels fees for international students are considerably higher.
The country operates a Free Fees Initiative for undergraduate study, whereby EU/European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss students attending publically-funded courses do not have to pay tuition fees. If you qualify for the scheme you’ll only need to pay a registration fee of around €3,000. For more information on free undergraduate fees see Citizens information – Third level student fees and charges.
Postgraduate course fees in Ireland are set each year so for accurate, up to date figures check your chosen university’s website. As a rough guide Masters students in Ireland can expect to pay anything between €6,000 and €10,000 for a postgraduate course. Some programmes, mainly business or medicine, will be more expensive.
Funding to study in Ireland
Financial support may be available from your chosen university in the form of scholarships and bursaries. To look for scholarships and check eligibility criteria, visit individual university websites.
Financial awards are also provided by the government of Ireland and other organisations. For a list of available scholarships see Education in Ireland – Scholarships.
The Irish Student Grant Scheme is the main source of financial help for undergraduate students. It is split into two parts: maintenance and fee grants. Maintenance grants go towards students’ general living costs and fee grants are designed to cover students’ tuition fees, cost of field trips or student contribution. In order to get a student grant you must be a national of an EEA member state or Switzerland or have immigration status or leave to remain. Postgraduates may get financial assistance under the Student Grant Scheme, with the cost of tuition fees for approved postgraduate courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Postgraduate students may either:
- receive a new flat rate fee contribution of €2,000, if they pass the fee contribution means test.
- get all their tuition fees paid (up to €6,270), if they meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant for disadvantaged students.
If you are an EU student you may also be eligible for postgraduate loans in Northern Ireland.
Non-EU/European Economic Area (EEA) students are ineligible for Student Grant Scheme and postgraduate loan funding.
If you are a student from the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland you do not need a visa to study in Ireland. A full list of countries exempt from needing a visa can be found at Citizens Information – Visa Requirements for Entering Ireland. If your home country is not on this list you will need a study visa.
This visa information is still valid following the UK’s decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes occur.
If you do need a visa to study in the country you should apply for this online at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). If your course will take less than three months to complete you should apply for a ‘C study visa’. If your course lasts longer than three months, you should apply for a ‘D study visa’.
You will need to submit the following documents with your visa application:
- a letter of acceptance from a recognised school, college or university confirming that you have been accepted onto a full-time course
- evidence of your academic and English language ability
- confirmation that course fees have been paid in full
- proof that you have sufficient funds (usually €7,000) to support yourself during your stay
- evidence that you or a sponsor have access to at least €7,000 for each subsequent year of your studies
- verification of private medical insurance
- an explanation of any gaps in your educational history
- confirmation you intend to return to your home country after leaving Ireland.
You will also need to provide two colour passport photographs, your current passport and a signed letter of application including your full contact details.
If you’re a non-EU student you will need to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) upon arrival if your period of study will last more than 90 days.
Visa application fees are €60 for a single journey visa and €100 for a multiple journey visa. Aim to apply for your visa as early as possible – the standard processing time is eight weeks but this can increase during busy periods.
How to apply
Postgraduate courses are generally oversubscribed and competition for a place on popular programmes is fierce. Each institution will also have its own application procedures and deadlines so to increase your chances make sure you thoroughly research your course and apply in advance.
In most cases you’ll apply directly to the international office of your chosen institution, either online or through the post. The application process usually involves the completion of an application form/personal statement, the submission of transcripts of your previous results and a postgraduate interview.
However, a handful of Irish institutions use the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) to process Masters and PhD applications. Similar to the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) in the UK, you submit your application online. PAC charges a non-refundable processing fee of €50. To see if your university utilises PAC visit their website.
All postgraduate courses in Ireland are taught in English so you must be fluent in the language.
If English is not your first language you will need to pass an approved language test before registering for your course.
Approved tests include:
- Cambridge Proficiency
- Cambridge Advanced
- PTE Academic
For a full list of approved language tests see Education in Ireland – Postgraduate courses.
You may be able to take English courses at your university, but if these are not available there are a number of private English language colleges around the country.
Education in Ireland is free at all levels for Irish nationals and resident of the European Union. This includes university education as well. However, this benefit is not applicable to international students.
Entry into undergraduate courses (ordinary and honours degree courses) is generally done through the Central Applications Office (CAO). This way, prospective students apply through the CAO rather than applying individually to each university. The autumn intake in Ireland starts in September and the spring intake begins in February. Some universities may have enrollments throughout the year as well.
Popular Student Destinations: The top universities in Ireland are Trinity College, National College of Ireland, University College Dublin, Griffith College, National University of Ireland Galway, Waterford Institute of Technology, IBAT College Dublin, Maynooth University, Cork Institute of Technology, and Dublin City University in no particular order. Most of the best colleges in the country are situated in cities like Dublin, Limerick, and Galway. Language and Literature, Business Studies, Medical Courses, Nursing, and Social Sciences are the popular courses Indian students pursue in Ireland.
Safety in Ireland: Travelling through Ireland is not dangerous at all. The biggest danger you might face could be pickpockets who would simply snatch your bag, which is a risk anywhere in the world. Other than that the country is safe for people of Indian origin, as “racist-hate” crimes are uncommon.
Weather: Ireland’s climate is heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, so the warm ocean currents keep temperatures mild. In the spring and summer (May to July) the average temperature is between 64°F and 68°F (17°C and 20°C). During the autumn season (August to October), the temperature varies from 57°F and 64°F (13°C and 17°C), with September being a mild month with sunny and warm atmosphere. In winters (November to March beginning), the temperature reaches 46°F (7.78°C) with January and February as the coldest months. Apart from a few cold weeks, snow is scarce in Ireland.
First, you need to decide whether you want to live in university-managed accommodation, or with a private landlord. Choosing university-managed accommodation can also give you a catered or self-catered option. Catered accommodation offers the benefits of your meals being cooked for you and a degree of certainty with meal costs.
If you have an idea about what you prefer, the accommodation office at your university will be able to tell you what accommodation they have available, so that’s the place to start. If you are thinking of renting from a private landlord or if your chosen university can’t offer you anything on its own residential premises, the accommodation office should be able to provide you with a list of private properties and landlords in the area.
Wherever you choose to live, you should make sure that you know your contractual rights and responsibilities. In most cases, you will be asked to enter into a tenancy agreement, which you should read thoroughly before you sign.
Orientation week is mandatory for international students so ensure that you arrive before it starts. This is the time where you will be introduced to the university and its services, as well as enroll in your classes. It is essential that you read your guidebook, which is provided by the college. The guide explains each part of the admission process.
Along with sports, colleges offer extracurricular activities offering students a wide range of experiences. Music, drama, science, and literary societies are offered in all colleges, and there will be opportunities for outdoor education and other leisure activities. Visits to theatres and concerts, to places relevant to the courses of study such as art galleries and museums, religious centers, or historical sites, scientific companies and projects are all part of college life.
For each course, a minimum academic score of 60% and above in Standard XII is required. Foundations and Diploma programmes are available for students who have secured around 50%. The student should have completed 18 years of age before joining a degree program. It is important to remember that even though entry requirement is lower at Irish universities, the education standard is not. Hence, you should carefully enhance your ability to cope with the high standard of education through the course of next few years beforehand.
The documents to be submitted are:
- Academic Transcripts: Mark Sheets of Standard X, XII, and the bachelor’s degree (if applicable)
- Internet-based TOEFL or IELTS scores
- If you have work experience then two letters of recommendation (LOR) from the employer/manager who knows you well and can comment on your professional abilities
- Statement of Purpose (SOP)
- Academic Resume
- Portfolio (in case of students applying for art and design courses or architecture programs)
- Others (Certificates/achievements at the state and national level and extracurricular activities)
- Proof of funds
- Health insurance
- A copy of your passport
Photocopies of these documents should be translated in English and certified by the educational institution or by notary.
Admission Process: For undergraduate courses, the Irish universities accept applications through Central Applications Office (CAO) an online enrolment system.
You will have to create an account on the CAO website to provide your basic information, submit the scanned version of your documents, a score of TOEFL/IELTS and pay application fees. You will be informed about the application process and its stages through this account.
Application Fee: All colleges require you to pay the application fee while applying, the amount of which may differ depending upon the college and course being applied to, so check with individual colleges about their application fee.
Steps: The common steps to applying for admission are as follows:
- Search for colleges and courses
- Contact schools and visit websites for information
- Narrow down your list of schools
- Take the language exams like TOEFL or IELTS
- Write Statement of Purpose, and ask for Letters of Recommendation
- Register at Central Applications Office
- Apply to the colleges which fit your interests
- Appear for video interviews of the colleges that shortlisted you (if applicable)
- If accepted, apply for Study Visa
Statement of Purpose: A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is your introduction to the college and admission officers. It is always written in the first person and describes the reason for applying to a particular college. It needs to highlight why you are a perfect fit for the college and why the college should accept you. The style of writing could differ from formal to casual, but it is important to remember that it should reflect your personality as well.
Essay: College essays are also required to be submitted by a prospective student. Essays are an important part of the university admissions process. Students may be required to write one or two essays, along with a few optional essays too. Common topics include career aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, skills, experiences, and reasons for considering a particular school.
LOR: A Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is a reference letter written by a third party describing the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the prospective student to recommend him to the college in terms of that individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function. The third-party could be a professor, direct manager etc.
Irish universities have one major enrolment season, which is the autumn intake in September. Some universities admit students for January sessions as well.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are the standardized language tests, which are required to be taken for the purpose of getting admission to colleges. Both the tests follow different formats, structures, and result bands. These tests are all different in various ways but many colleges ask for the score of any one of the two tests. So, it is up to the student to decide which exam to appear for.
Repetition of Exams: IELTS can be taken an unlimited number of times. TOEFL can be retaken as many times as wished, but cannot be taken more than once in a 12-day period. You must wait to receive your scores before you can book your next test.
Exam Fee: The fee for these exams is Rs. 14,000 for IELTS and Rs. 13,531 for TOEFL (approximately).
Cost of Living
The cost of living depends mostly on the part of Ireland you choose to live in along with the factor of how much you socialise. The currency of Ireland is Euro. Some of the basic elements for living as an international student in Ireland are:
- Accommodation rent (on-campus or off-campus)
- Groceries and food
- Utilities like power, water, internet, etc.
- Phone bills
- Text and reference books
- Airfare for traveling back to India
Other elements which may differ from person to person would be:
- Dinning out
- Travel and vacation
- Car rent and car insurance
- Cable TV connection
The average tuition costs for attending a college in Ireland will vary according to the school, the course and the city your school is located in. The average rates for tuition vary from about €10,500 and €30,000 per year. This amount varies and is based on a number of factors. There is no tuition fee for EU residents and the complete education is free, however, international students are supposed to bear their course costs. International students can also look at various financial assistance and scholarships available to them.
On average, an international student needs approximately €600 to €1000 per month in Ireland. Prices differ a lot in the big cities and small towns all across Ireland, with Dublin being the most expensive city to live in.
|Cost||Monthly (€)||Annual (€)|
|Rent and Accommodation||€427||€3,843|
|Food and Beverages||€167||€1,503|
|Books and Class Material||€70||€630|
|Clothes and Medical Expense||€41||€369|
|Social Life and Misc||€75||€675|
The Irish immigration service requires that all international students have at least a basic policy covering emergency medical expenses. Proof of insurance is required at the time of applying for a study visa. Meeting the medical insurance requirements laid down by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) will most likely be available through your college. Many colleges have a group medical insurance scheme to offer which costs a lot less. The premium for this policy is likely to cost between €500 and €1000 annually.
Student Eligibility Criteria: The first thing is to be aware of whether you are eligible to apply for the loan or not. The general eligibility criteria that are followed by all the banks are:
- You should be an Indian residential citizen
- You must have a strong academic record
- You must be seeking admission to a professional, technical, or other courses of study, most banks maintain that the selected course should be job-oriented
- You must have secured admission to a foreign university/institution
- You need to be 18 or above 18 years of age to avail the loan, else your parents can avail the loan
Course Eligibility Criteria: Not every course offered abroad is eligible for an educational loan. The kinds of courses that qualify for the education loan are as follows:
- Graduation: Job-oriented professional or technical courses offered by reputed universities
- Post-Graduation: MCA, MBA, MS, or even Diplomas
These courses could be offered by foreign universities/institutes approved by the state and central government.
Loan Amount: If your total fee is INR 10 lakh, the bank may offer to give a loan of 80% of the amount and you will have to put in the balance 20%. This is called the margin amount. The maximum loan amount for studies abroad is generally around INR 20 lakh by the bank. If your tuition fees amount is INR 30 lakh, you will have to manage the rest of the funds by yourself. Some banks charge a processing fee, while others do not. It may be a fixed amount or a percentage of the total loan amount. So, if the bank charges you 1% as processing fee, that will be an additional cost you will have to cover.
Documentation Required: You will have to provide the acceptance letter sent by the university reflecting that you have been selected for the course and the schedule of fees. You would also need to show the mark sheet of the last qualifying examination to show your academic record.
All banks have different requirements for documentation, so you need to confirm with the bank first.
Repayment: Repayment starts only after the course period. If the student gets employed within one year after completion of the course, the repayment should start immediately after the expiry of one month from the date of employment.
If you do not secure a job within a year of completing the course, then repayment starts irrespective of whether or not you are employed. The loan is generally to be repaid in 5-7 years after commencement of repayment. If the student is not able to complete the course within the scheduled time extension for completion of course, he may be permitted for a maximum period of two years. Generally, you will get up to a maximum number of 10 years to repay the loan.
You will need a study visa to be able to study in Ireland. Remember before applying that you need to show funds of at least €7000 in your bank account at the time of applying for the study visa. This amount equals the cost of living in Ireland for an international student for one academic year. Also, you need to be able to prove that you or your parents/sponsor will be able to provide at least €7000 for each year of your studies, in addition to the course fee.
To apply for a study visa, you’ll need to:
- Pay your first tuition fee installment to the University
- Prepare your documents and their copies. (See below for a list of required documents for the visa)
- Submit the online application
- Pay the application fee of €60
You should provide the following documents for the study visa:
- A recent passport sized photograph
- Letter of acceptance from a recognized Irish university confirming that you have been accepted for a full-time course.
- Scores of either IELTS or TOEFL
- Proof of payment of tuition fees
- Bank statement as proof of enough funds (€7000) required to cover the cost of living for the first year of stay in Ireland.
- Evidence that you or your parents/sponsor have access to at least €7000 for the following years of study as living costs.
- Private medical insurance papers
Students who are pursuing a full-time course and are in possession of the GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) registration card can work for 20 hours part-time per week. There are two standardized periods when international students are allowed to work full-time, which is for up to 40 hours per week. The periods are from 15th December to 15th January and 1st May to 31st August. These dates correspond to the traditional summer and winter holidays. Note that these dates are fixed for all international students, regardless of the actual teaching calendar for their course.
Visa for spouse
As a general rule non-EU international students studying in Ireland have no right to bring their family with them. Spouses and children of international students can apply to live in Ireland separately, but not on the basis of their relationship to a student.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Authority (INIS) might consider an exemption for certain cases from this policy. For example, if a student is pursuing Ph.D. studies (Level 10) and will be required to complete their doctorate within four years might be allowed to be joined by their partners and children.
Checklist before departure
- Book airline tickets
- Buy travel and health insurance
- Arrange accommodation in Ireland
- Arrange transportation to/from the airport to home in Ireland
- Check baggage and customs limitations
- Clear all paperwork with your home educational institution
Get your documents in order and make photocopies to store in your baggage and keep at home, including:
- Airline tickets
- Travel insurance certificate
- Letter of Acceptance by the educational institution
- Key addresses and phone numbers
- A bank statement showing proof of funds
- Prescriptions for any medication you are carrying
- Traveler’s cheques—if applicable
- Medical and immunization records
- Academic history and university transcripts
Once you land
Homesickness: Homesickness is a predictable problem faced by most students at one point or another. It may occur at the beginning or even well into your year. Homesickness will pass. Be patient. Give it at least two weeks. If you are feeling sad, explain what is happening to your friends. Do not hide in your room; if you do, the feeling will only worsen. Find your counselor staff with whom you can talk about homesickness or other problems. Homesickness might be made worse by frequent, long telephone calls home. Most homesick students feel more homesick after a call home than they did before they picked up the phone. Try to limit yourself to one call home every week. The sooner you integrate into the university experience, the sooner your homesickness will pass.
Learning basic cooking: Cooking for yourself will save you money. Indian food is expensive in Ireland. It will also satisfy your urge to eat “your food” during moments of cultural shock. Indian spices are not commonly available in smaller cities, but there are often shops on campus where you can get ingredients used in most Indian food. The most popular and easily accessible supermarkets in Ireland are Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Supervalu, Aldi, and Lidl, etc.
Transportation: Public transport is very expensive in big cities like Dublin. On average one month student pass for the public buses will cost you around €105. That is why most people travel on cycles, and that includes senior professors as well. A decent bike will cost €120-160 or you can choose to rent one on a monthly basis.
Post Studies options
Most universities have career advisors and workshops meant to improve your soft skills and assist in your job search. Irish universities don’t follow that concept of ‘campus placements’ as it is understood in India. Students find jobs on their own; the college only helps you prepare for the job. Most Irish study programs include a trainee-ship or an internship.
After that you will have to apply for a work visa under the ‘Work Permit Scheme’. This scheme is for non-EU citizens in situations where there may be labor shortages. A work visa is initially issued for up to two years and is renewable after that.
A person who qualifies for ‘Third Level Graduate Scheme’ scheme (level 8 or upwards qualification) will be granted a 12 month extension, starting from the day they receive their exam results.
Studying in Ireland
What is it like to study in Ireland?
There are eight universities in Ireland, all providing a wide variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses to 35,000 international students from 160 countries. Located on the western coast of Europe, Ireland is a member of the European Union and, following Brexit, will soon be the only English speaking country in the Eurozone. Irish universities offer a fantastic higher education experience in a uniquely beautiful setting.
Irish qualifications are the same as the UK equivalents, so your undergraduate or postgraduate degree carries just as much value when you begin your career. The Free Fees Initiative for EU students (see below) enables those who meet the criteria to avoid paying tuition fees.
Dublin, the Irish capital, has been voted by Lonely Planet as the world’s friendliest city on multiple occasions and many of the largest companies in the world such as Google, Medtronics and Microsoft have offices there.
– Free Fees Initiative
The Free Fees Initiative in Ireland will see your tuition fees paid to the university by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority. To qualify for the Free Fees scheme you must meet the following criteria:
- You have lived in the EU for at least three of the previous five years
- You are enrolling on your first undergraduate course
- Your course lasts at least two-years and is full-time
Student Visa Requirements
International students must apply for a visa to enter Ireland before they travel. Students will be required to have accepted an offer of a recognised programme of study in Ireland and to have a receipt of payment letter from their institution before they can begin the process of applying for their overseas visa to study in Ireland.
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