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Ireland Education System

Ireland has earned the reputation for superior quality education, and this reputation has certainly been built on the very foundation of excellence and dedication to research based studies. The higher education system in Ireland provides a wide array of universities, which are specialized in offering not only the mainstream education but also an exclusive range of vocation programmes in media, marketing, healthcare, hospitality as well as pharmacy. Each year, the universities in Ireland attract several international students for many obvious reasons, one of which is the language of instruction, which is English language. Ireland as a country is known for lavish green hills and vivacious metropolitan cities. International students experiencethis vivaciousness. The country also has interactive education society and unemployment status is almost zero.

Ireland is also the county with a wide variety of openings and prospects, irrespective of interests and ambitions of international students. Furthermore, international students love to get imbued in congenial environment, welcoming culture of the country, scintillatingpubs and the characteristic music. Ireland has living tradition of providing eminencein education and is historically known as the "Island of Saints and Scholars." It is for this reason the education is quite highly valued, and plays one of the major factors in Ireland's economic success in current socio-economic and political development. Besides, Ireland is named "Best Place in the World to Live" by the poplar journal "Economist" in 2005. The country is commonly referred to as the "Celtic Tiger" and placed as second wealthiest country per capita in the world by the UN Development Programme in theyear 2005.

The Irish Education System

The Irish education system is elaborate and structured and constitutes Primary schools, Secondary schools (high schools), Third level colleges and universities and professional institutions. The third level colleges and institutionsawards bachelor degrees of three years, master degrees of one to two years and doctorate degrees. There are also institutions offering shorter certificate and diploma courses.

International students opting for Ireland for the studies can enroll themselves at any third level institution. There are nine universities in Ireland - 2 in Northern Ireland and 7 in the Republic. These universities are at the helm of offering bachelor, master and doctorate programmes, besides undertaking research on various levels.

There are also 14 institutes of Technology in Ireland providing programmes at degree, national diploma and national certificate levels in diversified subjects like engineering and science. The education offered in these types of institutes is legalized by Ireland's national certification authority, with the purpose of education provided at par to international standard. Many institutes of technology hold postgraduate diploma and degree programmes, are meant to provide education as well as research.

The third type of higher education institutions in Ireland is provided by Colleges of Education and independent third level colleges. In addition to it, there are five Colleges of Education meant with the purpose of educating primary school teachers.Independent third level colleges are providing certificate, diploma and degree programs in such areas as accountancy and business studies, law, humanities, hotel and catering, tourism studies and art. The third type of higher education institutions have recognition and external accreditation from the national certification authority or alternatively from other institutions like the universities.

Grading System in Ireland's Education System

The grading system observes very closely to the grading system, which is usually used in the UK universities. The grading almost appears like:

  • Above 70%: First-class honors (a first)
  • 65-69% Upper second-class honors (a 2.1)
  • 60-64% Lower second-class honors (a 2.2)
  • 55-59%Third-class honors (a third)
  • 50-54% Ordinary

For non EU and EEA citizens, it is worthwhile to begin the preparation a year prior to traveling to Ireland. The purpose here is to secure a student visa, apply to the schools or universities of choice, and provide relevant proof of funding the education.

Universities in Ireland

Universities in the Ireland are ranked among the top and at par with that of the countries like the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand or the universities anywhere in Europe. Ireland universities are among the popular choice of the International students. The diversified selection of higher education institutions together with historic cities, together with stunning countryside as well as unique culture, lends the country a highly striking study destination.

The seven public universities of Ireland are ranked within the world's top 700 in the QS World University Rankings® 2016/17. The story of the 14 institutes of technology is also somewhat similar. Ireland also has seven private-sector colleges, ranging in size from the petite Burren College of Art, with 200 students, to the gigantic Dublin Business School, with record student count of 9,000.

Ireland universities and colleges offer wide range of courses that have primary purpose to define a rewarding career on global levels. The most opted courses by international students include Information Technology, Management, Finance/Accounting, Engineering, Biotechnology and Pharmacy, Applied Science and Hospitality. Higher education in Ireland constitutes universities, specialist colleges (which offer courses in a single subject), besides institutes of technology. The technology institutes are not limiting to courses in technology subjects, but also provide wide range of vocational programs, including hospitality, healthcare, pharmacy, media, textiles, marketing etc.

The Best Universities in the Ireland

  • University College Cork
  • Dublin Business School
  • Dublin City University
  • Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Griffith College Ireland
  • IBAT College Dublin
  • Maynooth University
  • National College of Ireland
  • Shannon College of Hotel Management
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • University College Dublin (UCD)

Types of Study

International students enroll themselves in Irish universities for variety of study programmes, and these programmes are available in different types of formats. Majority of these students opt for the Third level colleges and universities and professional institutions. Since the language of communication as well as study is English, those students with good knowledge of the language are eligible to apply for bachelor, or masters or doctorate degree, but, they should also need to show up the necessary prior education.

The primary entry requirements for various courses will show slight difference within institutions, however, the following rule of thumb applies:

  • Entry to BachelorsStudy programmerequires a completed secondary school education with appropriate results;
  • Entry to Masters Study programme would need either a completed bachelor or equivalent from and Irish university or college or equivalent abroad.
  • Enrolment to doctorate programme will require at least a master degree in the field of research.In majority of cases, the university may even ask relevant work experience during the entry.

College Years

The school years in Ireland are generally bifurcated into two semesters. The first semester begins in October and continues through the end of December. The second semester begins from the end of January and finishes in May. The precise starting and ending dates of study programmes are likely to vary from one institution to the other.

Essentials of Applications for Higher Education in Ireland

Application procedures widely depend on the type of course you intend to apply. If you are serious about studying in Ireland through any student or study exchange programme, the parent institution will be of extreme help. If you intend to apply for making an entry into the first year bachelor program, your applications are processed through the Central Applications Office, CAO. The deadline for meeting normal applications is start of February. The submissions of applications areforcertain prescribed fee, and this is likely to increase if you delay your submissions. The piece of advice is that you submit your application within the allocated time frame. Visit the CAO website for more information:

Applications to master or doctorate study are received directly to the institution. Each college or university adheres to different set of rules, regulations and requirements for application. It is a good idea that the foreign students contact the admissions or international office of the university, where they intend to study.

Living Arrangements

Each year huge investments are made by Ireland its higher education system, and this is one of the strongholds, why the country always welcome many international students from across the globe. Ireland's universities and higher education stand among the world leaders in vast areas of academic subjects. Several natural socio-political advantages make Ireland as one of the appealing and leading places to study for international students. Ireland is the significant part of European Union and the system of education is Bologna system. English is the main language of conducting the courses. Moreover, international students are benefitted through smaller tuition fee as well as low living costs. Ireland is known for friendly people and overwhelmingly safe environment, making this country one of the top countries to live and study, and enjoy superb experience.

Living Arrangements

Living arrangements during the times, when they are in the course of study at the tertiary level is organizedby the university, college or institute. Universities also have housing departments, helping students with allocation to university housing and in many cases even in the off campus living.International students are assured a place inside university hall of residence in the first year of study, and in several other cases through entire period of study.

Residing in theuniversity hall of residence during first year of study is suggestible and recommended. There are catered or self-catered halls of residence and this is likely depending on individual preference and budget. International students would live and intermingle with other students from different cultural set ups.

Students in post graduate education, would opt for an off campus housing. Few of Irish universities have allocated housing for students, where the student's spouse or family members can accompany.

Cost of Living

Average living costs significantly vary and depend on the geographical factors. Moreover, it depends on the point whether you wish to study in Northern Ireland or in the Republic. International students who intend to study in public institution in the Republic of Ireland, will however depend on the institution and where you live (city or outside, university or private housing).

The projected cost of living in Ireland for a foreign student during one academic year is 7,000 EUR. Non-EEA students who intend to study for a period of fewer than 6 months need the legitimate proof that they are able to support living costs of 500 EUR/month.

Student Visa Requirements

International students (non-EU countries) visiting Ireland for studies need visa to come and study in Ireland. The student immigration process in the Ireland is largely categorized into two areas; entirely on the basis of whether it is a degree programme or higher education institution or as the matter of fact the international student intends for pursuing English-language or non-degree course. Prospective international students, who are a non-EEA national visiting Ireland for study, must be enrolled in a full-time course on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). Students coming from the EU/EEA willnot need any visa to study in Ireland.

Foreign students who wish to study in Ireland for fewer than 3 months need to apply for a 'C study visa. In case the course lasts over 3 months, there is a need for a 'D study visa. Prospective international students need to provide the following documents (Only the original documents should be presented and must be in English or supplemented by a notarized translation):

  • Acceptance letter from recognized school/college/university in Ireland confirming that International Students have been accepted on a course of study;
  • The course of study should be full-time (forfull academic year) and have a minimum of 15 hours per week study time;
  • Proof that fees has been paid in full;
  • Proof of academic abilities to pursue the selected course in English language (if unless the course is not in English Language);
  • Proof of valid medical insurance;
  • Explanation of any gaps appearing in the educational history;
  • Written confirmation from the prospective International Student that after completion of study, the student will return to his or home country;
  • Proof of sufficient funds to maintain initial part of your study;

Thegrant of student visa to study in Ireland will notbestow the automatic right of anyone to either join or visit International Students in Ireland (irrespective of the fact that those are student's relative or not).

Types of Study Visa Issued by Ireland

Basically, two types of Study Visa are issued by Ireland, and the International Students should have complete awareness on this point. The 'C type study visa' – for any study programme/course that would last for less than three months. The 'D type study visa' – if it is applied for a course that would last over three months.

International students should apply for study visa at least three months before arrival date. The visa can be applied online by visiting website of the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service. The applicant may have to provide Biometrics information as part of the application process.The processing time for study visa is variable, and this would entirely depend on the country from where you are submitting your application. The answer comes between four and eight weeks from the date when the application is lodged at the Visa Office/Embassy/Consulate.

Work Permit forInternational Students

International students who are on the Study Visa are permitted to live, study and work in Ireland based on fact whether the study programme which they are enrolled into, is recognised by The Internationalization Register or not. In case the study programme is recognised by a stamp number 2, which is authorized by the local immigration officer. With this type of authorization, the international students are allowed to work on the part time basis for the maximum of 20 hours per week during semesters, or full-time up to 40 hours per week during the routine holidays.

In case the degree in which you are enrolled finds no listing in the register, a stamp number 2A is received in the passport. However, in such a case, the students cannot work. Non-EEA students are customarily not permitted to bring their family under the Student Visa. Only the following few exceptions are allowed:

  • Students enrolled in research such as PhD studies, who intend to complete their doctorate within four years;
  • Students enrolled in variety of academic programme that is mutually agreed upon between the Irish State and another state are allowed to bring dependants and funds the expenses in Ireland;
  • International Students need to show sufficient funds on regular yearly basis for supporting themselves as well as their family without opting for employment orgaining access to public funds;
  • Child(ren) is/are who happen to be on a short visit to their parent(s), and who quickly approve that the child(ren) would come to their home country after the stay. In this case, the Partners/spouses and children should make their own visa applications.

Work permit for studying in the Ireland is not only the legitimate way to gain entry into the Ireland, but it also ensures International Students to live, interact as well as compete with regular students from the country. The permission from designated university is necessary here.

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