Why should I study in Ireland?

The country of beautiful coasts and nature, Guinness and St. Patricks Day…

How to Study in Ireland

Ireland is located in Western Europe and is a neighbour to Northern Ireland (United Kingdom). Ireland is an island country and the capital city is Dublin. Ireland is a member of the European Union since 1973 and uses Euro as currency in contrast to the United Kingdom.

The Irish Higher Education System

The higher education system in Ireland splits up into 7 universities, 4 colleges, 7 private higher education institutions and 14 technological universities which have a practical orientation. Third level institutions can award degrees but have to be certified by another higher education party or by the state agency 'Quality and Qualifications Ireland' (QQI).

As usual in the European higher education area, the degree-structure is three-tiered for the overwhelming part of the subjects/ programmes: bachelor (undergraduate), master and doctoral degrees (postgraduate).

In Institutes of Technology, you can achieve a National Certificate after two years and a National Diploma after three years. Both degrees aren’t academic degrees, but professional qualifications.

Ireland’s Higher Education System in International Comparison

In this section, we highlight the overall performance of Irish universities on the institutional level per U-Multirank dimension. The table below shows the national breakdown of Irish universities and how they stand across the spectrum of above average (receiving a score of ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good)), versus below average (receiving a score of ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak)). In doing so, U-Multirank offers a clear picture of the Irish strengths and areas for improvement.

It becomes apparent that in general Ireland’s higher education institutions perform particularly well in teaching & learning and regional engagement.

National performance: Ireland

Percent of all Universities 100% 80% 60% 40% < below Average above > 40% 60% 80% 100% Teaching & Learning 7% 69% Research 37% 47% Knowledge Transfer 50% 40% International Orientation 30% 55% Regional Engagement 31% 55%

How much does it cost to study in Ireland?

In Ireland, the tuition fees vary depending on the institution, study programme and level of study. Also, there is a difference between European Union (EU) citizens and non-EU citizens. Tuition fees can vary from 9,000 € up to 55,000 € per academic year. EU citizens don’t have to pay tuition fees for undergraduate programmes depending on some requirements. But they have to pay a yearly “Student Contribution Fee” in the amount of 3,000 €.

Addition of information on fees and financial support

Source: Eurydice 
Reference year(s): 2020/2021


In this section we highlight the fees for studying in Ireland. The fees are shown in the national currency and address all fee types: tuition, enrolment (part- or full-time, etc.), certification, or other administrative costs. Students that are exempt from fees are also described, as well as information on international student fees if they differ.

  • In principle, all full-time first-cycle students are expected to pay a fee set by the higher education institution. However, first time students studying full-time and who are EU/EEA/Swiss/UK citizens or those who hold certain permissions from the Minister for Justice and Equality and have been resident in EU/EEA/Switzerland/UK for at least three of the five years are generally exempt from full tuition fees. They are liable for a 'student contribution' of EUR 3 000 per academic year. Students who qualify for need-based grants provided by the Department of Education and Skills (see below) have the student contribution (or part of) paid on their behalf by the Exchequer. Those who do not meet the 'free fees' criteria pay a total fee as determined by each higher education institution.
  • In the second cycle, all students pay tuition fees that are set by higher education institutions, and that may reach EUR 34,000 per year.
  • Fees for short-cycle higher education programmes are set by individual higher education institutions (no information available on the fee range). All students studying in short-cycle programmes pay a fee.
  • International student (non-EU and non-EEA citizens)

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Financial Support

In this section we highlight the financial support system implemented in Ireland. The types of support covered in this section include: grants, loans, tax benefits for students' parents (or students themselves) and family allowances.  How these terms are defined, are outlined below:

  • Grants are provided in the national currency and are differentiated between merit-based and need-based (or universal, where applicable). All main public financial support that does not need to be paid back is included, with the exception of grants for study abroad (i.e. mobility grants). Information is also presented on the proportion of students (in the short, first and second cycle) who receive grants.
  • Loans: information focuses on the existence of a student publicly-subsidised loan system and the percentage of students that take out a loan. Information on the interest rate and modalities for the repayment of loans may also be provided.
  • Tax benefit is any tax relief that is granted to parents whose child is a higher education student or to students themselves. The information aims to cover the amount of the tax relief, how it can be claimed and who is eligible to apply.
  • Family allowances for students' parents: this part provides information on their amount and the eligible population.
  • Need-based grants are provided to full-time students by the Department of Education and Skills, depending on means, nationality, residency, previous academic attainment, family size and distance from institution attended. For first-cycle students, grants range from EUR 305 to 5,915 per academic year. Students who qualify for grant assistance also have the student contribution or tuition fees paid on their behalf. Second-cycle students whose reckonable income (parental, spousal or student's) is less than EUR 23,500 and includes a long-term social welfare payment may have a fee waiver for tuition fees up to EUR 6,270 and are also eligible to receive a special rate of maintenance grant of either EUR 5 915 or EUR 2 375. Second-cycle students whose reckonable income is less than EUR 23,500 and do not have a long-term social welfare payment may have a fee waiver for tuition fees up to EUR 6,270. A second-cycle fee contribution of EUR 2 000 applies to those with a reckonable income up to EUR 31,500. Short-cycle students are not eligible for student grant assistance.
  • Bursaries of EUR 2,000 may also be awarded based on merit- and need-based criteria. 0.2% of first-cycle students received such bursaries in 2017/18.
  • Tax benefit (relief) at the standard rate of tax (20 % up to a maximum of €7,000 per person per course) may be claimed in respect of certain full-time and part-time courses of higher education. It applies to either parents or students, depending on the applicant's status.
  • No loans and no family allowances to higher education students’ parents are in place.

What are the entry requirements for Irish Universities?

Generally, to be admitted to a Bachelor’s degree in Irish higher education systems you need to possess a high school diploma and a proof of English proficiency.

For doing a Master’s degree in Ireland you have to submit a Bachelor’s diploma from an Irish university or from a university in another country as well as a proof of high-level competence in the English language.

As every university has its own requirements, for example, minimum grades or English competence level, it is the best way to have a look at the specific university you wish to study at.

How to get a Scholarship in Ireland?

No matter the reason, paying high tuition fees can be a source of stress for many. However, there are many options for financing your studies, including the use of scholarships. There are various scholarship opportunities available for international students looking to study in Ireland. Depending on your country of origin and the level of studies, there are different options for funding. To explore what scholarship options are available, check this scholarship database.

Do I need a Student Visa for Ireland?

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are not required to obtain a visa but you should obtain a residence permit at a local police office or at the Department of Justice and Equality (St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2).

All non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens must have a visa for living and studying in Ireland. For a study visa, you have to show proof of full-payment of courses to the higher education system. You also have to demonstrate that you have a minimum of 7.000 € per year for living costs (because estimated living costs per academic year in Ireland are 7.000 €). As a student, you can only stay in Ireland for a maximum of 7 years. You can find more information here


Top Student Cities in Ireland


How do Irish Universities fare in U-Multirank?

  1. The 2022 publication of U-Multirank continues to cover 16 out of 19 public universities, colleges, and institutes of technology of Ireland.
  2. Irish higher education institutions show a strong performance in the dimensions of Teaching and Learning, in which 69% of all indicator scores are ranked above average (grouped ‘A’ or ‘B’) and International Orientation (57% above average).
  3. Among the five Irish institutions which reached at least ten top group positions (‘A’ scores) there are universities, university colleges and institutes of technology.
  4. University College Cork has the highest number of top group positions (17), followed by Institute of Technology Carlow (13), Technological University Dublin (12), Dublin City University (11) and University of Limerick (11).

Here you can find the full Irish country report.

Ireland's Higher Education Performance in U-Multirank

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