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Higher education in Ireland for international students. List of 21 top institutions, 2024 fees, rankings

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Education information

Today, Ireland is the leading country among best destinations for educational tourism according to foreign students. Ireland attracts international students with high-quality educational services, a wide range of schools and colleges, exciting cultural programs. SMAPSE offers TOP-10 prestigious Irish colleges and universities where international students can get high-quality and balanced higher education that will open wide career opportunitites. 

Please, don't hesitate to contact SMAPSE experts as they are always ready to answer all your questions. 

Ireland Educational System: features and benefits

Higher Education in Ireland: requirements and benefits

Ireland's educational heritage dates back to the Middle Ages, when priests received their education in Irish monasteries and then traveled to teach across Europe. To this day, the country is renowned for its exceptional education system, harmoniously blending time-honored traditions with modern approaches.

Respected Diplomas 

While Irish universities may not consistently occupy top positions in global rankings, their degrees hold great value for employers in Europe and the USA. Graduates often find it easy to secure quality jobs.

Opportunities for Foreign Students

Ireland offers enticing prospects for foreign students. Many have the chance to secure part-time employment with leading companies during their studies, and post-graduation, they often find full-time roles, facilitating their stay in Ireland.

Competitive Research Environment

Ireland's research capabilities now rival those of the United Kingdom, thanks to substantial investments in the research field and active participation from foreign scientists. Dublin, in particular, stands poised to become a global scientific hub, with major IT giants such as Google, Facebook, and Zynga already establishing their presence in the city.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Recruitment Director for Partnership with INTO Universities (Europe and Central Asia)

What firstly should be considered when choosing a university?

It depends on the student - everyone determines the most important criteria for himself. I would advise you to take several rankings and compare them with each other, plus take into account the cost of the course, the location of the university and its scale, the percentage of graduates' employment. See where graduates continue their studies or where they go to work.


Admission Process for Foreign Students to Get Higher Education

Ireland provides a streamlined admission process for international students pursuing higher education, with minimal language requirements and reasonable certificate scores, among other criteria.

Irish citizens are renowned for their friendliness towards foreigners. They are always eager to forge new friendships and extend assistance to newcomers.

Guide to Higher Education in Ireland for International Students

Structure Based on the Bologna System

Higher education in Ireland follows the Bologna system, encompassing three levels: bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. Undergraduates can opt for either a three-year Ordinary Bachelor Degree or a four-year Honors Bachelor Degree, with the latter often conferring honors upon graduation.

Master's and Doctoral Programs

The master's program in Ireland spans two years, with students engaging in research work under the guidance of a supervisor. It typically involves fewer lectures and seminars. Doctoral studies, on the other hand, last anywhere from 2 to 6 years.

Higher Education Institutions in Ireland for International Students

Ireland hosts different types of higher education institutions, each catering to specific preferences and career paths. Universities are ideal for those pursuing scientific careers and research-oriented studies. There are nine universities in Ireland.

Institutes and colleges are better suited for applied sciences, offering practice-oriented programs that thoroughly prepare students for their future careers. Many organizations place high value on diplomas from institutes and colleges, attributing it to the practical knowledge and skills they impart.

Academic Calendar and Facilities

The academic year in Ireland commences in September and concludes in June, encompassing two or three semesters. Students can expect a rigorous academic load, including numerous lectures, seminars, and one-on-one sessions with mentors. All Irish universities are well-equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including high-quality sports equipment, as physical activities are often a requirement. Additionally, students can participate in clubs, studios, and various student communities.

Opportunities for Part-Time Work

While studying, students can work up to 20 hours per week, and job opportunities are abundant. The country actively encourages final-year students to work in their respective fields. Many graduates continue their employment in Irish companies, thus remaining in Ireland. High-achieving students may also be eligible for financial incentives.

Admission to Irish Universities for Foreign Students

Admission to top Irish universities can be competitive. It is advisable to consider preparatory courses such as the University Foundation program. This one-year pre-university course is designed to assist international students in adapting to the new academic and linguistic environment. A high school diploma with excellent grades is typically required, alongside proof of language proficiency, often demonstrated through TOEFL certificate (550), IELTS scores starting from 6 points.

Higher Education in Ireland. Cost and Fees for international students

Ireland stands out as one of the most budget-friendly English-speaking countries for higher education. Tuition fees in leading Irish universities typically range from 15,000 to 20,000 euros annually, with medical specialties being the exception, costing around 30,000 euros. Education at less prestigious institutions is more affordable, averaging about 15,000 euros per year. Living expenses vary depending on location, with the capital cities being pricier. On average, students in Ireland can expect to spend between 7,000 and 10,000 euros per year, making it approximately 30% cheaper than studying in the UK.

General statistics on education in Ireland - rankings, specialties, universities

Learning programs-summary information

Name Meaning Equivalent Min. age Duration,
Next stage Cost
GCSE General certificate of secondary education secondary education (non-accomplished) 14 1–2 A-Levels 15,000 USD+
A-Levels Advanced level secondary education (accomplished) 16 2 University 15,000 USD+
BTEC Business and Technology Education Board secondary special education 14 2–3 University/ work 15,000 USD+
Oxbridge Preparation Preparing for Oxford and Cambridge secondary education (accomplished) 17 1 University 15,000 USD+
International Baccalaureate International baccalaureate secondary education (accomplished) 16 2 University 18,000 USD+
Foundation/ Pathway Year Preparatory year admission to the 1st year of university 17 1 University 14,000 USD+
NCUK The Northern consortium 2 year university 17,5 1 2 year University of NCUK 13,000 USD+
Special Preparation (Medics/Math/Business) Specialized training - 14 optional optional 4,000 USD+
Academic English Academic English Language school 8 + 6–12 months School or University 8,000 USD+

Top 15 best universities in Switzerland 2024

1 Glion Institute of Higher Education Switzerland
2 Les Roches International School Montana
3 César Ritz Colleges Switzerland
4 IHTTI School of Hotel Management
5 Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne
6 Geneva Business School
7 EU Business School Montreux
8 HIM Hotel Institute Montreux
9 Swiss Hotel Management School
10 Webster University Geneva
11 Business and Hotel Management School
12 Luzern IMI
13 Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS) Caux
14 International University in Geneva
15 Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland

Top 10 best universities in Netherlands 2024

Top 35 best universities and colleges in Canada 2024

1 University of Toronto
2 McGill University
3 University of British Columbia
4 University of Alberta
5 Simon Fraser University
6 Montreal University
7 University of Windsor
8 York University
9 University of Guelph
10 McMaster University
11 University of Manitoba
12 University of Waterloo
13 Royal Roads University
14 Vancouver Film School
15 Kwantlen Polytechnic University
16 University of Calgary
17 Dalhousie University
18 Fanshawe College
19 University of Ottawa
20 Laval University
21 Sheridan College
22 University of Regina
23 Brock University
24 Thompson Rivers University
25 Humber College
26 Vancouver Island University
27 Mohawk College
28 Centennial College Toronto
29 Niagara College
30 Capilano University
31 Seneca College
32 Algoma University
33 Saint Clair College
34 Douglas College
35 LaSalle College

Times Higher Education’s top 50 best universities in USA 2024

World University Rank US Rank University City State
2 1 Stanford University Stanford California
3 2 Harvard University Cambridge Massachusetts
4 3 California Institute of Technology Pasadena California
5 4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge Massachusetts
7 5 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley California
8 6 Yale University New Haven Connecticut
9 7 Princeton University Princeton New Jersey
10 8 University of Chicago Chicago Illinois
12 9 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore Maryland
13 10 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Pennsylvania
15 11 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles California
17 12 Columbia University New York City New York
19 13 Cornell University Ithaca New York
=20 14 Duke University Durham North Carolina
22 15 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Michigan
24 16 Northwestern University Evanston Illinois
26 17 New York University New York City New York
28 18 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
29 19 University of Washington Seattle Washington
33 20 University of California, San Diego San Diego California
38 21 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Georgia
44 22 University of Texas at Austin Austin Texas
48 23 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign Illinois
49 24 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison Wisconsin
50 25 Washington University in St Louis St. Louis Missouri
53 26 University of Southern California Los Angeles California
=54 27 Boston University Boston Massachusetts
=56 28 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina
61 29 Brown University Providence Rhode Island
=64 30 University of California, Davis Davis California
68 31 University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara California
=80 32 Ohio State University (Main campus) Columbus Ohio
=85 =33 Emory University Atlanta Georgia
=85 =33 University of Minnesota Minneapolis Minnesota
90 35 University of Maryland, College Park College Park Maryland
=94 36 Purdue University West Lafayette West Lafayette Indiana
=98 37 University of California, Irvine Irvine California
=101 38 Dartmouth College Hanover New Hampshire
105 39 Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan
=111 40 Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee
=114 41 Penn State (Main campus) State College Pennsylvania
117 42 University of Virginia (Main campus) Charlottesville Virginia
120 43 Georgetown University   Washington D.C
=121 44 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland Ohio
=124 45 University of Arizona Tucson Arizona
=124 =45 Rice University Houston Texas
=131 47 University of Colorado Boulder Boulder Colorado
=133 48 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
=140 49 Indiana University Bloomington Indiana
=147 50 University of Rochester Rochester (NY) New York

Top 50 best universities in the UK 2024

1 Cambridge
2 Oxford
3 St Andrews
4 London School of Economics
5 Imperial College London
6 Loughborough
7 Durham
8 Lancaster
9 University of Bath
10 East Anglia (UEA)
11 University College London
12 Warwick
13 Exeter
14 Birmingham
15 Bristol
16 Edinburgh
17 Leeds
18 Manchester
19 Southampton
20 Glasgow
21 King's College London
22 Nottingham
23 York
24 Newcastle
25 Royal Holloway, University of London
26 East Anglia (UEA)
27 Aberdeen
28 Queen's University Belfast
29 Sheffield
30 Heriot-Watt
31 Cardiff
32 Dundee
33 Swansea
34 Liverpool
35 Surrey
36 Queen Mary, University of London
37 SOAS University of London
38 Leicester
39 Reading
40 Sussex
41 Essex
42 Harper Adams University
43 Aston
44 University for the Creative Arts
45 University of Stirling
46 Nottingham Trent
47 Kent
48 Arts University Bournemouth
49 Oxford Brookes
50 Lincoln

Cost of living in Ireland

Expenses - USD/Month. Min. Med.
Accommodation 407 528
Food 213 442
Transportation 90 197
Communications and utilities 98 121
Clothing 24 92
Sports and leisure 27 98
Total 860 1,477

Statistics of English courses in Ireland

Programs Intensity Group Language requirements The minimum cost of the week
General English 15-22,5 8-12 Beginner €130+
Intensive Courses 25-30 5-10 Beginner €220+
Combined Courses 25-30 5-10 Beginner €305+
IELTS Preparation Courses 25-30 8-10 Intermediate €220+
Cambridge Preparation Course 20-30 8-10 Intermediate €130+
English for Business 25-30 6-10 Intermediate €220+
One-to-one tuition individual 1 Beginner €35+ lesson
Academic Year Programme 20 10-15 Beginner €2,70

Accommodation in Ireland

Shared room outside of centre 411$
Shared room in city centre 533$
1 bedroom apartment outside of centre 780$
1 bedroom apartment in city centre 944$

Estimated Costs

Estimated Costs Min., € Average €
Consular fee of the embassy €60 €60
Flight (Moscow - Dublin - Moscow) €227 €550
Medical insurance €100 €120
Study material €35 €65
Delivery of invitations by express mail €45 €75
Transfer/Escort €90 €120
International exams €130 €175
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Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Recruitment Director for Partnership with INTO Universities (Europe and Central Asia)

Sam is the Regional Director of Student Admissions at INTO Universities (Europe and Central Asia). Sam has nearly 20 years' experience in international education. Also, he has experience in student recruitment for institutions in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and is a qualified EFL teacher with many years of experience teaching abroad. He understands the challenges faced by international students and is aware of all these difficulties and have vast experience in helping foreign students.

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