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Study in Ireland: primary, secondary, higher education for foreign students


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Ireland is known for its high level of education: every year thousands of students flock to the country, choosing from more than 5000 study programs. If you decide to stay to work in the country after graduation, Ireland offers many opportunities, with the headquarters of international companies including Google, Dell, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, GSK and Pfizer. The Emerald Isle is a safe and friendly place to study, and traditional Gaelic culture and rich art history, combined with coastal landscapes, unspoiled countryside and vibrant metropolitan areas, offer endless leisure opportunities.

Education in Ireland is compulsory for children from 6 to 16 years old. The education system consists of primary, secondary, higher and additional education. Public education is free at all levels.

Preschool education

Preschool education is provided by public and private childcare institutions - the state provides free education and upbringing for preschool children. The age of compulsory schooling in Ireland is 6 years, all forms of pre-school education are optional. Children from 4 years old can be enrolled in primary school children's classes. Almost 40% of 4 year olds and almost all 5 year olds attend primary school ( Pre-school ).

The Department of Education and Training funds some special preschool services:

  • Early Start Program , an early childhood education initiative in disadvantaged urban areas. The total number of seats provided by the existing 40 Early Start Centers is 1,650.
  • The Rutland Street Project is an early start program for Dubliners .

Early childhood care and education services in Ireland are provided outside the formal education system, with a variety of private, community and volunteer organizations opening day nurseries, preschools, naíonraí (Irish language preschools), play groups and day care centers.

The primary education curriculum covers key areas:

  • Tongue
  • Mathematics
  • Social education
  • Environmental and Science Education
  • Art education including visual arts, music and drama
  • Physical education.

Elementary education

Primary education is an eight-year cycle that includes preschool education and grades one through six.

General goals of primary education:

  • To enable the child to live a full life, to realize his personal potential
  • Social development through communication and collaboration with other children
  • Preparation for lifelong learning.

The primary school curriculum aims to provide a broad learning experience and encourages a variety of teaching approaches that take into account the different needs of children. The curriculum is designed to educate a child in the spiritual, moral, cognitive, emotional, imaginative, aesthetic, social, physical aspects.

The curriculum includes key areas:

  • Language - Irish and English
  • Maths
  • Social, environmental and scientific education
  • Art education including visual arts, music, drama
  • Physical education
  • Social, personal and health education.

Secondary education

Secondary education is provided by 4 types of schools:

  • Average
  • Vocational and technical
  • Community
  • General education.

Secondary schools are divided into private and public. In most cases, the trustees are religious communities or governing boards. Vocational schools are established by state education and training councils.

Secondary education consists of 2 cycles:

  • Junior school - 3 years
  • High school - 2 or 3 years.

Students usually start the junior cycle at the age of 12 and receive a junior certificate after 3 years. Further, the student can take a transitional year when there are no formal exams and students can receive a wide range of educational services, including work experience.

During the two years of the senior cycle, students go through one of three programs, pass the state exam and receive the established school leaving certificate.

Irish schools issue three types of certificates:

  • General allows you to enter universities, institutes, technological colleges.
  • The professional differs from the general school leaving certificate in the number of technical subjects, additional modules with a professional focus.
  • Applied is focused on preparing students for entering the labor market. It does not qualify for university admission.

Higher education in Ireland

Higher education in Ireland comprises several sectors: university, technology and teacher training colleges.

  • Seven autonomous Irish universities offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.
  • The technology sector includes institutes of technology that provide education and training programs in areas such as business, science, engineering, linguistics, and music. Graduates receive certificates, diplomas and academic degrees.
  • Teachers' colleges specialize in teacher training, offer a three-year undergraduate program and a postgraduate diploma.
  • Second-level teacher training usually involves completing an initial degree from a university or other third-level institution followed by a one-year master's degree. In addition, there are teacher training colleges that specialize in the training of second-level household teachers, teachers of religion and physical education.

A number of higher education institutions provide specialized training in areas such as art, design, medicine, business research, rural development, theology, music, law.

Top universities in Ireland

Academic culture in Ireland

Irish academic culture overlaps with the British in many ways: students are expected to work and maintain a sufficient academic level on their own. The focus is on learning methods, methodological skills, less on factual data. The content of the course aims to equip students with tools and teach them to draw their own conclusions.

Estimates vary by field of study and usually focus on fewer lengthy tasks. Exams are held at the end of the first and second semester, any part of the exam must be passed at least 40%.

Class discussions encourage students to formulate their own opinions, not to shy away from questions that question what the professor is saying (provided it is justified). Professors are open to dialogue, conduct personal consultations, discuss ideas or concepts taught in class.

Tuition fees at universities in Ireland

Most undergraduate students who go to government-funded universities and institutes do not pay tuition fees. Colleges pay a separate annual fee for student service and exam expenses.

Admission to Irish Universities for International Students

Students must apply for full-time undergraduate courses at Irish universities and tertiary institutions through the Central Application Office (CAO).

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