Why Study in Ireland
Study in Ireland
Ireland is a European nation famous for its culture the world over. It is admittedly a less known study destination for African students than its near neighbour, the United Kingdom. However, as we hope to reveal in this guide, there are lots of good reasons to consider Ireland for your studies.
The Irish people are proud of their culture and thus work hard to preserve it. Ireland is an Anglophone country that makes it attractive for both African students who already speak English and those who want to improve theirs. Ireland is home to students from other parts of the world too. Most of the students that study in Ireland come from the European Union, Switzerland, the UK, and North America.
Ireland has a younger population than most Western European countries and also a highly educated population. The country is often referred to as the Celtic Tiger for its strong economic performance over the last 30 years.
Ireland has a pioneering and can-do spirit. Through innovation a country with a population of around 5 million people produces enough food to feed 60 million! Irish expertise in agriculture has helped turn arid lands in Africa into fertile farming. And, an upstart Irish airline company, Ryanair, revolutionised air travel within Europe, becoming the biggest European airline in terms of passenger numbers pre-COVID.
Unlike the UK, Ireland is a member of the European Union (though it is not part of the Schengen visa zone). In recent years, thanks to its highly educated workforce, Ireland has attracted multinationals, such as Amazon and Microsoft, to set up European HQs here. Since 1st February 2020 it is the largest Anglophone country within the European Union, which is likely to make it an attractive base for other international companies looking to set up hubs within the European Union’s Single Market.
Ireland is a very safe and beautiful country with great places to visit. Popular attractions are The Cliffs of Moher, Grafton Street in the capital city, Dublin, for shopping lovers, Killarney National Park and Muckross House & Gardens. With such rich history it was no surprise Capital Dublin was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010.
Top 5 reasons why you should study in Ireland
The Higher Education system in Ireland is one of the best in Europe. Education is a significant force in the fast-growing Irish economy. Most universities in Ireland rank among the best globally, offering prestigious study programs in a wide range of fields, including medicine, science, technology, engineering, business, law, languages, literature, history, philosophy, and psychology. Every student will always find a course that is best suited to their needs academically.
Ireland is also home to some of the best higher education institutions in the world, like Trinity College Dublin, which ranks at number 101 in the 2021 QS World University Rankings. The other Irish universities listed in the top 250 institutions of higher learning in the world are University College Dublin, National University Ireland, and Galway. All these universities have earned their rightful place in this list by ensuring quality education to their students.
Lower Tuition Fees
Compared to universities in the UK or USA, for example, tuition fees at Irish universities are often lower. Bachelor Degree courses in Business cost between 9,850 and 19,500 EUR/year, rising to a maximum of 25,500 EUR/year for science and engineering programs. For Masters programs, tuition fees start from 9950 EUR/Year and may range up to 34,500 EUR/year depending on the university and field of study selected.
The cost of living in Ireland is typically lower than its neighbour, the United Kingdom. For example, Dublin is a less expensive city to study and live in than London. It is however more expensive than other Irish cities so, if you are looking to save a little money, consider joining one of the universities or institutes of technology outside Ireland’s capital city.
Overall, compared to countries such as the USA and UK, accessing university education in Ireland is often a little cheaper.
Work opportunities for African Students in Ireland
There are numerous job opportunities for graduates in Ireland. Most big companies with headquarters in Ireland employ graduates. Such companies’ availability makes it possible for students to access a wider choice of job opportunities after finishing their studies.
Like other international students, African students get a chance to apply for work permits during or after their studies. Postgraduate students are also allowed to earn as they study by taking up part-time jobs, making it possible for them to part-finance their studies in Ireland.
Learn English in one of Europe’s most dynamic countries
Although Irish Gaelic is the official national language in Ireland, English is by far the most widely spoken language, as well as being the language of education. Even for non-native English speakers, studying in Ireland and interacting with the locals will make you hone your English speaking skills fast. And, with one of Europe’s youngest populations, you will have plenty of people of a similar age to practise your language skills on!
A Beautiful, safe country
Ireland has always had a reputation for being a very friendly and safe country. Dublin, Cork, and Galway feature highly in any list of the safest places in the world. Dublin regularly features in QS Best Student Cities in the world ranking despite its relatively small size (550,000 inhabitants).
Higher Education System
The Higher Education System in Ireland
Ireland’s higher education system offers excellent study programs for international students and African students alike. It is interesting to find out that more than one in ten full-time students are international students.
Ireland’s education is world-class, and students who graduate from universities in Ireland find it easy to navigate the professional world. It is also surprisingly affordable – in general you will see that it is a cheaper study destination than the UK.
The Higher Education system in Ireland consists of universities, institutes of technology and colleges of education. There are also several third-level institutions providing specialist education in professions like law and medicine. The type of institution you choose to further your studies all depends on the subject area and the level of qualification you want.
There are seven universities and fourteen institutes of technology in Ireland. Ireland’s universities, while small in number, are all highly regarded internationally and are well placed in global universities rankings, such as the QS World University rankings. Ireland’s most famous and highly ranked university is Trinity College (yes, we know that it says college, not university, but trust us! It is a university!).
Popular Areas of Study and Courses in Ireland
The most popular areas of study for students in Ireland are medicine, engineering, and MBAs. There are a very wide range of undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses offered in Ireland.
Colleges & Universities
College and Universities in Ireland
As previously mentioned, Ireland has 8 universities and 14 institutes of technology. The most renowned Irish university globally is Trinity College Dublin, ranked #101 in the QS 2021 World University rankings.
Seed partner school, DIFC, offers a pathway at both Bachelor and Master’s degree level into 14 universities and institutes of technology in Ireland, including:
National University of Ireland, Galway
The National University of Ireland Galway, also commonly known as (NUI Galway) is home to over 2000 international students, with some of its students are brilliant-minded African students.
University College Cork
University College Cork was founded in 1845 and is part of the three queen’s Colleges. With over 120 degree programs, no wonder University College Cork has been named Irish University of the year five times. It offers many programs like science, law, food and nutritional sciences, and much more.
University of Limerick
Located in the south of Ireland, it was given university status in 1989. Today the University of Limerick is highly regarded – it is ranked #501= in the QS 2021 World University rankings – and is particularly known for its Co-Op programs.
Located in Dublin and ranked #401-500 in the Times Higher Education 2021 World University rankings and #43 in the latest THE Young University rankings. It was officially awarded autonomous university status in 1997, though it was recognised as part of the National University of Ireland from 1910.
Cost of Study
Can you study in Ireland for free?
African students can’t take a bachelor’s degree in Ireland for free. A free bachelor’s education is only a provision for Irish citizens who the Higher Education Authority covers university costs in Ireland.
Living Expenses while at University in Ireland
The estimated cost of living for African students in Ireland ranges from 7,000 Euros to 12,000 Euros per year per student. These expenses include food, rent, laundry, and books but are not inclusive of tuition fees.
Scholarships for African Students to Study in Ireland
There are many different partial scholarships open to students from Africa. As elsewhere, scholarships are generally awarded based on prior academic performance so, if you have excellent grades, your chances of benefitting from scholarships are increased. Be sure to consult the scholarship info on each university’s website for more information on requirements.
Study Abroad Requirements
Higher Education study in Ireland requirements
Foundation Year in Ireland
The Foundation year is a program specifically designed for international students whose intent is to attend a university in Ireland but who do not meet the necessary requirements for direct admission into an undergraduate degree.
For most African students, a University Foundation Year will be a necessary step towards a Bachelor degree in Ireland. Like Foundation Year programs in other countries, the purpose of a foundation year program is to equip students with the required knowledge and skills required to thrive in their study area. It consists of three main elements – Academic English, Study Skills and academic content related to your intended field of study.
Whatever the language of tuition in your home country in Africa, most African students will need a Foundation Year to meet university entry requirements. Only students with strong A-level or International Baccalaureate (IB) results will be able to consider direct entry into an Irish university. However, if your A-level or IB results were lower than expected, you may still wish to consider or, in some cases, need a Foundation Year to be able to gain admittance to the university of your dreams!
Seed’s main partner in Ireland, DIFC, is a specialist in the Foundation Year program and successful completion of their program will lead into many different institutions in Ireland.
Bachelor Degrees in Ireland
Bachelor degree programs in Ireland generally last 3 – 4 years. However, in some fields such as dentistry and veterinary science, a Bachelor degree will take 5 years. For medicine it may even take 6-years to complete.
Students coming through a University Foundation Year offered by Seed partner school, DIFC, will have up to 14 universities and institutes of technology in Ireland to choose from, depending on their intended field of study and past academic performance.
Master’s Preparation Pathway
Often, students would love to take a Master’s degree in Ireland but find out that they don’t meet the requirements. In such a situation, a Master’s Preparation course, also known as Pre-Master Pathway, is the best route to gain admission to your dream Master’s degree in Ireland.
Seed partner school, DIFC, offers a Master’s Preparation program that consists of Academic English, Study Skills and academic content according to your intended field of study. In addition, as DIFC’s program is run in partnership with NCUK, successful graduates of this program may also gain admittance into a number of universities in the UK, mainland Europe and even further afield if they wish.
It is important to note that the Master’s Preparation program is primarily designed to prepare non-native speakers of English for a Master’s degree in Ireland (or elsewhere).
Master’s or MBA (Postgraduate) Degree
Before you decide on doing your Master’s or postgraduate degree in Ireland, you must inform yourself of your particular degree requirements. These will vary from institution to institution but you will normally need at least a Second Class Lower Division Bachelor degree (roughly equivalent to 2.7 GPA). The more prestigious the university, the higher the entry requirements.
Online Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degrees
Students from African countries can also get access to online or distance learning in Ireland. Distance learning allows students to study a course without ever setting foot in a physical institution. During distance learning, students interact or communicate with other students and faculty through video conferences, emails, instant messaging, and other forms of communication.
Although tuition fees are the same for online programs as for on-campus programs, you will ultimately save money when studying online as you will not have transport, accommodation or living costs. Online study is also a very practical solution for African students that have jobs in their home country – you can fit in your online studies around your job!
Language Requirements for Irish University
To be eligible for a student visa in Ireland, you must meet the minimum English language requirements.
You must show proof of English language prowess by providing an internationally recognized certificate. The certificate must not be older than two years. Universities in Ireland only accept the following English exam certificates:
- IELTS Academic
- TOEFL iBT
- PTE Academic
How To Apply
When to apply to University in Ireland
If you plan to take your studies in Ireland for more than three months, you should apply for a study visa.
It’s also important to check where your visa application will be treated. There are relatively few Irish Embassies in Africa handling student visa applications. In some cases your visa application will be mailed to Dublin and handled there. Applications that are handled in Dublin may take up to 6 months in extreme circumstances so do plan ahead!
I have already started university studies in my home country – can I transfer?
Every university has its own policy when it comes to transferring credits from another institution into their institution. In general, Irish universities do not accept credit transfer from overseas.
Student Visas for African Students in Ireland
There are two types of visas that African students in Ireland can apply for. Note that the type of visa you will need to use entirely depends on your course duration.
- C-type study visa for programs that will take less than 90 days
- D-type study visa for any program that takes longer than 90 days
Therefore any African student planning to follow university studies in Ireland will need a D-type visa. Of course, if you have a passport from the EU/EEA, then you do not require a visa.
Please note that these are not visas for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Post-graduation work opportunities for African students in Ireland
As long as you graduate from a recognized degree-awarding body in Ireland (which includes the 7 universities and 14 institutes of technology, as well as the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland with an Honours Bachelor degree or higher, you may be able to apply for the Third Level Graduate scheme. This gives international students the right to look for employment and stay for up to 24-months after graduation.
Of course, as Ireland is part of the European Union, if you are the holder of a European Union passport, you may stay indefinitely in Ireland.