Studying in Ireland
Ireland's higher education institutions include universities, institutes of technology and colleges of education. The Irish higher education system works to the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) which covers ten levels of study. This aims to help with the comparison of national and international qualifications. Irish universities are state-funded and are self-governed. They offer qualifications at first degree, masters and doctorate levels. Private, fee-paying colleges are also available and tend to specialise in professional and vocational courses.
There are seven main universities in Ireland:
- The National University of Ireland (NUI) is the umbrella university covering University College Dublin, NUI Galway, University College Cork and NUI Maynooth
- The University of Dublin, generally known as Trinity College Dublin
- The University of Limerick
- Dublin City University.
There are also 14 institutes of technology located around Ireland and several colleges of education.
What courses can you study?
Irish universities offer a wide range of subjects at postgraduate level which are comparable to those offered in the UK. Institutes of technology tend to specialise in courses in engineering, computing, science and business but also offer many other subjects. Colleges of education provide specialised training for primary school teachers.
Course lengths are comparable to those in the UK with masters taking one to two years and PhDs taking a minimum of three years. Ireland's National Learners' Database Qualifax has comprehensive information on courses available in Ireland.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
Each institution has specific entry requirements, similar to the UK. A general guideline is at least a 2.2 honours undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. Some institutions may require a 2.1 or higher. A certain level of research experience is usually required for PhD programmes. English is the language of instruction in Ireland and you must be able to demonstrate a certain level of competency in it, usually through TOEFL or IELTS results. Refer to individual institutions for further information on specific entrance requirements.
You can apply for postgraduate courses throughout the year. Closing dates vary for different courses. Some courses accept applicants during the year and hold some places until results are announced.
Most applications are made directly to the institution via its official application form, which you may be able to download from its website. Some institutions accept online applications via the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC).
Fees and scholarships
While undergraduate courses are state-funded in Ireland, postgraduate course fees must be paid by the student (including Irish nationals). Fees can vary depending on the course and institution and may be higher for non-EU citizens. You should check with the individual institution for further details.
Financial support may be available from the university or from an external organisation. Some research bodies award funding and scholarships for postgraduate study and research in Ireland, including the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.
Further information on available funding and grants in Ireland can be found at studentfinance.ie.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both under and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Ireland through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Ireland is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.
Do you need a visa to study in Ireland?
If you're an EU citizen you can study in Ireland without a study permit or visa. You're allowed to stay in Ireland for up to three months without restrictions but if your course will last longer than this you must prove that you're enrolled as a student or as a vocational trainee to be allowed to stay for longer.
Non-EU citizens may be required to have a visa and study permit and can check with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
AGCAS editors, May 2014