Why Ireland?

  • Dynamic, modern country with young population
  • Internationally recognized for being safe and friendly
  • Great emphasis on education
  • Technologically oriented economy
  • Despite modern direction of recent years, respect for tradition continues

Location and Geography

The Republic of Ireland includes 26 counties, and represents five-sixths of the total area (84,421 sq. kms) of Ireland (the other sixth is Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom). The capital city is Dublin.

The Republic of Ireland consists of a mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains, with sea cliffs on the west coast. The River Shannon separates the midlands from the west. To the northeast is Northern Ireland (U.K.); otherwise the Republic of Ireland is surrounded by water.


The climate is mild, moist, and changeable with abundant rainfall and lack of temperature extremes due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. In general, the climate is similar to the U.K. except that it has higher rainfall and more cloud cover.

Education System

Ireland has one of the best education systems in the world according to the independent IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2009 (Ireland ranks eighth).

There are three main sectors of formal education: primary (eight years), secondary (six years) and tertiary/higher education (universities, institutes of technology, colleges of education, NUI colleges, and independent colleges). Education is free at all levels for those applying from EU Countries.

In terms of higher education, there are seven universities in the Republic of Ireland, 14 institutes of technology, as well as many independent (privately funded) colleges. All government-approved academic awards in these institutions are internationally recognized. There is a wide range of technical and vocational training programmes available in Ireland. English-language programmes attract around 200,000 students a year of all ages and nationalities.

Specific Information for International Students

With a relatively young population (36% are under the age of 40), an internationally acclaimed emphasis on education, and a reputation for being a safe place to live, the Republic of Ireland can be a very exciting place to be a student.

Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) generally do not have any special requirements to study in the Republic of Ireland. For some countries outside the EEA, a visa is not required. It is important to check country requirements via the Department of Foreign Affairs website.

Ireland Visa Application

For applying for an Irish Visa, one must satisfy the requirements that include a letter of acceptance for enrolment in a recognized course, immediate access to a specific amount of funds, proof of private medical insurance, proof of English-language level sufficient to meet entry (e.g., IELTS 5) and ability to complete the course, mainly for students who intend to enrol for third-level institutions. The Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service (INIS) website provides detailed information of how to apply and the essential documents that must accompany an application.

Employment Options

International students studying in a full-time recognized course of at least one year’s duration may be eligible to obtain casual employment of up to 20 hours a week.

Employment & Stay back Options

An international student on an F1 Visa is permitted to work part-time on-campus limited to 20 hours per week but not off-campus during the first year of study. The education institution shall grant permission for off campus work after the first year of study. The DHS/ICE may grant permission for off-campus employment after the first year in cases of demonstrated economic hardship.

F1 students are also eligible for 12 months of optional practical training. Students in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields may be eligible for up to 29 months of optional practical training. J1 students are eligible for 18 months of academic training (three years if completing a doctoral degree).

Related Links for more information:

www.gov.ie/en/ Irish Government: links to state organisations and government departments
www.dfa.ie Department of Foreign Affairs official website
www.dfa.ie DFA entry visa requirements for specific countries
www.inis.gov.ie Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service – student visa guidelines
www.educationireland.ie Department of Education and Science official website
www.i-studentadvisor.com I-Student Advisor website
www.educationireland.ie Information on all universities in the Republic and Northern Ireland
www.icosirl.ie/eng Irish Council for International Students: visas, work permits, health insurance