On the Western edge of Europe, Ireland is the second-largest island after Great Britain. Known for its picturesque landscapes, long history, and friendly people, Ireland has always had a worldwide cultural influence that belies its size, and the universities are no different. In this guide, we share the top reasons to study in Ireland.
Education and teaching
Despite the country’s small size, its universities consistently do well in international rankings, and consistently rank in the top 1% of research institutions in the world. According to the Times Higher Education University Rankings in 2019, the top five universities in the Republic of Ireland are:
- Trinity College Dublin
- University College Dublin
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
- University College Cork
- National University of Ireland, Galway
Traditionally, Irish universities excelled in creative writing and poetry, but the country now offers strong programmes in science, engineering, business, and psychology as well. Just like the country itself, the education system is supportive and flexible, and most professors have an open-door policy for students.
Studying in Ireland can offer opportunities to launch a successful career once you graduate. Dublin is also considered a premier European city for capital, and many top global companies - like Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn - have their headquarters in Dublin. During the course of your degree, you can apply for exciting internships in their fields.
Travel and Geography
Ireland is a beautiful place to visit - from the jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher to a Game of Thrones tour of the Giant Causeway. And beyond Ireland itself, access to the rest of Europe is easy.
Ireland is located on one of the major sea and air routes between northern Europe and North America, and separated from the rest of Great Britain by the Irish sea. The country is divided into four provinces – Connaught, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster - and further divided into 26 counties.
Summers in Ireland are usually quite warm, but the effect of the Atlantic Gulf stream from the west means that temperatures during spring, autumn, and winter are much cooler. Irish weather can be pretty unpredictable, and the country is also known for rainfall at all times of the year. You’ll need to invest in some high quality rainwear, alongside warm clothing like jackets, sweaters, and boots. Surrounded by mountains, Ireland has lots of bogs, sandy beaches, lakes, wetlands, and moors. It’s a great habitat for lots of wildlife - you may spot a seal or dolphin during your time in Ireland if you are lucky!
Culture and history
From the breathtaking cliffs of Moher on the west Coast to the Blarney Stone in the south, Ireland is breathtakingly beautiful and rich with history. Irish counties are subdivisions of the ancient Provinces of Ireland that were historically based on the traditional geographical areas. Today, you’ll find that the division of the country into counties is still important - it’s been adopted by cultural and sporting organisations that organise their activities along county lines.
The Irish are known for their fun, friendly and welcoming culture. People will go out of their way to help you and learn more about you. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll be hooked: more than half of the international students who choose Ireland for their semester abroad come back later to study there for longer.
Food and drink are a big part of Irish culture. If you aren’t careful, you’ll find a large part of your student budget going on eating out with friends and trips to the local pub!
Cost of living
For international students coming from outside the EU, going to university in Ireland will cost more than some European schools, but it is certainly more affordable than going to school in the United States. Top Irish universities like Trinity rival American institutions like Harvard or Yale, but for a fraction of the cost.
Tuition fees vary widely for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In the majority of cases the cost will depend on your course, your institution, and whether you're classed as a UK, EU, or non-EU student. At both study levels, fees for international students are considerably higher.
The general cost of living - which includes expenses such as food, accommodation, and entertainment - tends to be on the more affordable side in comparison to the United Kingdom, for example. You can find out more information about the cost of being a student in Ireland by checking out our guide, ‘Cost of studying in Ireland’ here.