Education in Ireland

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Higher education in Ireland is provided by 7 Universities, 14 Institutes of Technology and 7 Colleges of Education. Also known as the third level education, the higher education system in Ireland includes the university sector, colleges of education and private, independent colleges.

Also, third level institutions provide specialist education in fields such as information technology, computer science, data science, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, engineering, medicine, art and design, business studies, theology, rural development, theology, music and law.

Entry into third-level is generally very high in the Republic of Ireland especially among young adults. Nearly 42% of those aged between 25 and 34, have attained third-level degrees.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is the statutory planning and development body for higher education and research in Ireland. The HEA has wide advisory powers throughout the whole of the third-level education sector. It is also the funding authority for the universities, institutes of technology and other designated higher education institutions.

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Universities in Ireland

Ireland has 7 universities which has affiliated colleges and offers a wide range of courses over various disciplines including computer science, data science, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, engineering, arts, humanities, drama and many more.

Top universities in Ireland,

  • Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
  • University College Dublin (UCD)
  • National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)
  • National University of Ireland, Maynooth
  • Dublin City University (DCU)
  • University College Cork (UCC)
  • University of Limerick (UL)

Institute of Technologies in Ireland

Ireland is known for its development in the field of information technologies. The technological sector includes institutes of technology which provide programmes of education and training in areas such as computer science, data science, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, business, science, engineering, linguistics and music to certificate, diploma and degree levels.

Ireland has 14 Institutes of Technology located around the country.

List of Institute of technologies in Ireland:

  • Athlone institute of technology (AIT)
  • Cork institute of technology (CIT)
  • Dublin institute of technology (DIT)
  • Dundalk institute of technology (DKIT)
  • Galway Mayo Institute of technology (GMIT)
  • Institute of Art Design and technology (IADT)
  • Institute of technology  Blanchardstown (ITB)
  • Institute of Technology Carlow (IT Carlow)
  • Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo)
  • Institute of technology Tallaght (ITT Dublin)
  • Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee)
  • Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT)
  • Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT)
  • Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)

The Technological Universities Act 2018 allows institutes of technology to apply to become a new type of higher education institution with technological university status.

Other Independent colleges

In addition to State-funded colleges, various fee-paying third-level educational institutions offer courses, mainly in professional vocational training and business. Some of these colleges are linked to universities or professional associations and their qualifications may be accredited accordingly.

Below is the list of colleges in Ireland:

  • Shannon College of Hotel Management
  • National College of Ireland
  • Griffith College Dublin
  • Griffith College Cork
  • Griffith College Limerick
  • Dublin Business School
  • IBAT College Dublin

and many more.

Colleges of education

Several colleges of education in Ireland provide specialized training for primary school teachers. They offer a 3-year Bachelor of Education degree and 18-month postgraduate diploma. Post-primary teachers generally do a primary degree, followed by a postgraduate diploma.

Quality of Education in Ireland

Ireland has one of the best education systems in the world in regarding to higher education achievements. The education system in Ireland uses the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) to describe levels of educational qualifications. Responsibility for maintaining and developing the framework lies with Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).

The NFQ was launched in 2003 and developed by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland as a means of comparing training and qualifications between institutions of education at all levels. It encompasses learning at primary and second level, as well as acting as a benchmark for required standards for graduates of courses offered by QQI, Dublin Institute of Technology and universities. The framework consists of 10 "Levels", ranging from Certificates at Level 1 which signify initial learning to degrees at doctoral level.

National Framework of Qualifications Ireland

NFQ level

Major award types

1 Level 1 certificate
2 Level 2 certificate
3 Level 3 certificate
Junior certificate
4 Level 4 certificate
Leaving certificate
5 Level 5 certificate
Leaving certificate
6 Advanced certificate
Higher certificate
7 Ordinary bachelor's degree
8 Honours bachelors degree
Higher Diploma
9 Master's degree
Post-graduate diploma
10 Doctoral degree
Higher doctorate

Eligibility for higher education in Ireland

For EU students

A new grading scheme for the Leaving Certificate was introduced in 2017. The new scheme means that the Common Points Scale used by the CAO to determine entry into higher education institutions, has also been revised.

Students who have taken the Leaving Certificate examination are allocated points for the results they get in their 6 best subjects at a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate. The points awarded depend on the level of achievement in the subject.

The number of entry-level points needed for any course depends on the number of places and the number of applicants for those places so the entry level varies from year to year. Higher points are awarded for Higher-Level papers than for Ordinary-Level papers. The CAO publishes the minimum points required for admission to courses as each round of offers is made.

Under a 4-year pilot scheme operated from Leaving Certificate 2012, the seven universities, Dublin Institute of Technology and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland allocate extra bonus points for Higher-Level mathematics.

A student must also have the particular academic entry requirements (also called matriculation requirements) for the course he or she wants to take. You can find detailed information on the websites of the universities, institutes of technology and colleges of education.

Ireland is open to international students as well as EU citizens

Entry into Higher education institutions is normally done through the CAO or Central Applications Office. In this way, students wishing to enter university apply to the CAO rather than the individual university. Placement in universities or colleges are usually awarded based on results in the Leaving Certificate Examination or any international equivalent. Each university has a minimum entry requirement, usually requiring a pass grade in English or Irish, as well as math. Some also require a pass grade in a modern continental European language French, German, Spanish or Italian.

Each individual course has further entry requirements, for example, science courses usually require a certain grade in one or two sciences. The student must also achieve the number of points required for the course under the points system. However, universities also have systems in place for accepting mature students, and students who have successfully completed a Post Leaving Certificate or Further Education course.

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