Ireland Education System

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All About the Ireland Education System-03 (1)

Ireland is known for providing quality education to students in top universities. The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for the framework of educational policies and regulations for universities and students in Ireland. Education is mandatory in Ireland for children of ages 6 to 16 or at least for three years at the secondary level. If you want to know more about the education system, top universities in Ireland, then keep reading!

Must Read: Study in Ireland: The Land of Intellectuals & Scholars

Why Study in Ireland?

The following are some of the most common reasons why international students choose to study in Ireland:

  • Ireland is a welcoming and safe place for international students.
  • It provides world-class education as well as several scholarship options.
  • For pupils from middle-class backgrounds, education in Ireland is affordable.
  • Ireland is home to numerous prestigious colleges and universities, including Trinity College and the National University of Ireland.
  • Students in Ireland have the opportunity to work part-time.
  • Ireland’s education system is distinctive, and adaptable, and encourages creativity and pragmatism.

Also Read: MIM in Ireland

About the Ireland Education System

The education system in Ireland has four levels unless someone pursues studies at private institutions. Education in Ireland comprises primary or first-level, second-level education, third-level education, and higher education. The government has sponsored all of these levels in Ireland. 


Primary education in Ireland is available for children older than 6 years, but they may start school after their fourth birthday. Preschool education in Ireland is usually provided by private institutions. Primary education or early childhood care is also available for free through The Early Childhood Care and Education scheme provided by the state government. The primary school in Ireland has a child-centred curriculum. International students who are residing in Ireland may be exempted from learning Irish in school. Moreover, these primary schools are usually owned by religious communities but are funded by the state government for Irish and other EU nationals.

Eligibility for Primary Education

  • Other than the age limit, there are no explicit eligibility criteria for requesting admission to pre-primary institutions. Irish children can begin attending pre-primary schools as early as the 31st of August, as the session begins on the 1st of September.
  • Children attend pre-primary schools until they are six years old. Children with exceptional needs, on the other hand, are exempt from the upper age limit.

Also Read: Ireland Work Permit


The second level of education in Ireland is usually provided by various types of post-primary schools. This secondary level of education lasts 5-6 years and comprises a 3-year junior cycle and a 2-3 year senior cycle. This 5-6 year duration depends on the optional Transition Year and the Junior Certificate or Junior Cycle (JCPA) examination that is taken after 3 years.

This transition year is free from formal examinations and is for students to experience a broad spectrum of educational inputs and, most importantly, work experiences. Moreover, during the final cycle of 2 years in secondary education, students are supposed to take one of 3 programs – the established Key leaving Certificate, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, or the Leaving Certificate Applied, each leading to a State examination

The junior and senior cycles are the two parts of post-primary education.

  • Junior Cycle: The junior cycle is intended for children aged 12 to 15. These students take the Junior Certificate or Cycle Profile of Achievement after three years and qualify for the tests.
  • Senior Cycle: Students must attend the senior cycle for additional 2-3 years after qualifying for the junior cycle. A Transition year is included in a three-year senior cycle, and it allows students to attend school instruction and work experience according to their preferences.

Eligibility for Secondary Education

The eligibility standards differ from one school to the next. However, in order to be admitted to post-primary schools in Ireland, children must meet the following common qualifying criteria:

  • The student must be between the ages of 12 and 13 as of January 1st.
  • All kids under the age of 16 are required to attend post-primary schools.

Also Read: Intakes in Ireland

Third-level Education (Higher Education)

Third-level education is made up of several sectors, including the university sector, the technological sector, and the colleges of education. All these sectors are substantially funded by the State government. Furthermore, there are various independent private colleges. These universities offer various courses at the bachelor, master’s, and doctorate levels. The technological sector includes Technological Universities (TUs) and Institutes of Technology (ITs), which provide programs of education and training in areas such as business, science, engineering, linguistics, and music in various certificates, diplomas, and degrees level courses. 

Eligibility for Third-Level Education

The qualifying standards for higher education vary depending on the institution and discipline of the course. However, some of the essential eligibility conditions are listed below:

  • The student’s age cannot be less than 16 years.
  • To be eligible for an apprenticeship, students must have a certified Junior certificate or equivalent exam with a minimum needed percentage.
  • The International candidate is chosen based on their merit and performance in the National Examination.
  • To study in Ireland, students must pass an English language aptitude exam (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).
  • Basic health insurance, proof of funding, a Letter of Recommendation (LOR), and a Statement of Purpose (SOP) are required for students.

Further Education

Further education in Ireland includes education and training that is after completion of second-level schooling but which is not part of the third-level system. It comprises programs such as Post-Leaving Certificate courses, the programs in Youthreach for early school-leavers, other literacy and basic education, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (second-chance education for the unemployed) and self-funded evening adult programs in second-level schools.

Eligibility for Further Education

The qualifying standards for higher education vary according to the institution and discipline of the course. However, the following are some of the basic eligibility requirements:

  • The student must be at least 16 years old.
  • To apply for an apprenticeship, the student must have a qualified Junior certificate or comparable exam with a minimum required percentage.
  • The International candidate is chosen based on merit and performance in the National Examination.
  • To study in Ireland, students must first pass an English language aptitude exam (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).
  • Students should have basic health insurance, evidence of funding, a Letter of Recommendation (LOR), and a Statement of Purpose (SOP).

Also Read: 10 Reasons to Study in Ireland

Best Universities in Ireland

Many universities in Ireland are known for their quality of education, amazing infrastructure, enrollment, and much more. Some of the best universities in Ireland are:

Name of the UniversitiesLocation 
Trinity College DublinCollege Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
RCSI Institute of LeadershipBallymoss Rd, Sandyford, Dublin, Ireland
University College DublinUniversity College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
University College CorkCollege Rd, University College, Cork, Ireland
National University of Ireland, GalwayUniversity Rd, Galway, Ireland
Dublin City UniversityDublin City University, Collins Ave Ext, Whitehall, Dublin 9, Ireland
Maynooth UniversityMariavilla, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland
University of Limerickthe west coast of Ireland along with the picturesque River Shannon
Technological University DublinPark House, 191 N Circular Rd, Cabra East, Grangegorman, Co. Dublin, D07 EWV4, Ireland
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland123 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, D02 YN77, Ireland

Also Read: Ireland Student Visa

Cost of Studying in Ireland

International students should expect to pay between €10,000 and €20,000 per year to study in Ireland, depending on the programme and institution. This includes tuition, housing, transportation, food, and other additional costs. The different costs are given in the table below:

Cost TypeAverage Cost
Tuition FeesUG Courses – €7,000 to €20,000
PG Courses- €25,000 (per year)
Accommodation€2,000 to €5,500
Food€150 to €200
Miscellaneous expenses€1,000 to €2,000 (per year)

Interesting Facts About Ireland

  • One of the amazing facts about Ireland is that the first potato was planted here. It is known that Sir Walter Raleigh is the one who brought potato crops from America to Ireland many years ago.
  • Have you ever wondered where Halloween originated? The answer is Ireland, The festival of Halloween originated in ancient Ireland.
  • Another amazing fact about Ireland is that this place is known for having no snakes. Yes, indeed, there were never any snakes in Ireland. 
  • The oldest lighthouse in the world is located in Wexford, Ireland. It is known that this lighthouse had been there for the last 848 years.
  • Puck Fair is the longest-running festival in Ireland. The amazing fact about this festival is that in August every year, a goat is caught from the Kerry mountains and is caged in the village of Killorglin. Then the goat is crowned as a king for three days. However, after three days the goat is safely sent back to the mountain.


The education system in Ireland is focused on providing students with a diverse range of high-quality educational possibilities, from early childhood to third-level education. The Ireland education system provides a good foundation for children to fulfil their potential, with highly skilled and experienced teaching staff, a current curriculum, and support services. Furthermore, Ireland’s educational focus guarantees that pupils are well-prepared to confront future difficulties.


Q1. Is the education system in Ireland good?

Ans. Yes, the education in Ireland is absolutely good as it ranks above average in OECD and EU. 

Q2. Is education really free in Ireland?

Ans. All children living in Ireland have a basic right to education. Education in Ireland is made free for all children in preschool, primary and secondary levels. 

Q3. Where is Ireland ranked in education?

Ans. Ireland has ranked 4th out of 38 countries in a study and Ireland is the most educated European country. 

If you want to get into a good university, you’ll need more than just good grades; you’ll also need a flawless application because the competition is fierce. You may enlist the assistance of Leverage Edu specialists to assist you with the application process so that you can realize your goals. Call us immediately at 1800 57 2000 for a free 30-minute profile consultation.

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