Studying in Ireland
Studying in Ireland is a great way to expand your learning. Find out how to apply to Irish universities and fund your studies.
Brexit and Ireland
Although the UK left the EU in January 2020, the UK and Ireland continue to have a joint agreement under the Common Travel Area. This means existing arrangements will continue, as covered below.
Free Fees Initiative
Under the Free Fees Initiative, Ireland’s Higher Education Authority pays tuition fees for eligible students straight to the university. To qualify for it, you must meet these criteria:
- You've resided in an EU member state for at least three of the five previous years
- It’s the first time you’ll be attending an undergraduate course
- You’re applying to a course that'll last at least two years and is studied full time
- You meet at least one of the nationality requirements
Student contribution fee
Most students will have to pay an annual student contribution fee. The amount varies from one institution to another but is capped at a maximum of €3,000. The fee covers provision of student services such as libraries, computing, clubs and exam entry fees.
Northern Irish residents choosing to study in the Republic of Ireland are eligible to apply for the Student Contribution Loan, which will help cover the fee. Applications are submitted to Student Finance Northern Ireland.
EU student fees
If you aren't eligible for the Free Fees Initiative, you may still qualify for EU fee rates. These are set by individual institutions so check with the university you’re interested in for details.
Examples of situations where you don't qualify for free fees but may do for EU fees:
- You’re repeating a year you failed
- You’ve already been to university
- You’ve been a tax resident in EEA state for a number of years
Non-EU student fees
If you don't qualify for the Free Fees Initiative or EU fees, you’ll pay non-EU international fees. These are set by individual institutions so make sure you check with them. International students pay their fees for the academic year upfront.
Applying for undergraduate study in the Republic of Ireland is similar to applying in the UK. Unless stated otherwise by the university, applications are submitted to the Central Applications Office (COA).
Academic entry requirements
Entry requirements for courses can vary from year to year depending on the number of applicants and places available on each course. There can be lots of competition for more popular programmes.
Irish students compete for entry based on their Irish Leaving Certificate exam results. Irish universities are familiar with applicants who've gained A Levels, GCSEs, International Baccalaureate and other qualifications.
How to apply
- Register on the CAO website
- Edit your application through the ‘My Application’ page
- Submit the necessary qualification and experience information and supporting documents
- Add course choices in order of preference
- Check the Statement of Application Record when it’s sent back to you for any errors
The CAO provides an application pack with a handbook, which lists all the courses on offer and full information on how to apply. Applications can be submitted online.
Offers are issued on a weekly basis until mid-October and vacancies are full. You must accept an offer by the reply date on the offer notice.
There are different rounds to when offers are issued for students at different levels. For instance, the main body of offers is issued in round one, following the release of the Irish Leaving Certificate exam results.
Instruction in universities in Ireland is in English with a handful of exceptions where courses are run in Irish. Non-native speakers of English will need to provide evidence of English language speaking and writing ability to be admitted to an Irish university.
This can be a language qualification such as the Irish Leaving Certificate in English, GCSE English Language, University of Cambridge – Use of English Examination, TOEFL, IELTS or equivalent.
Universities set their own standards for English language ability, so contact your university of choice to see the minimum score you’ll need and how to provide evidence.
- READ MORE
- English language tests
Applications for postgraduate courses are submitted directly to the university.
Undergraduate: If applying to an undergraduate Medicine degree, you’ll need to do the Health Professions Admission Test (HPAT), designed to assess your aptitude to study in the allied health professions.
Postgraduate: If applying for a graduate-entry Medicine degree, you’ll need to do the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT).