International Students In Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is a unique and special place to live and study. Despite a turbulent history, Ireland has become a modern European nation with an identity that is steeped in thousands of years of culture. Ireland offers a robust, well-established and respected postgraduate education that is mostly taught in English, although Irish is spoken throughout the country. Yes, there are educational opportunities in Irish, but English continues to be the language used at high academic levels. This is one of the main reasons that students from around the world choose to study in Ireland. Another is the warm and welcoming nature of the Irish people and culture that pervades all Irish institutions and organisations.

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Facilities of Irish universities

Irish universities are, in the majority, based on similar institutions in the UK and have facilities and systems that would be familiar to British students. However, there is an increasing number of Irish universities that are choosing other countries' university systems as a template – for example, the University of Limerick is based on the American university system and has a Grade Point Average marking system, 8-month work placements as part of all undergraduate degrees and searches for private funding in a similar way to universities in the United States. Meanwhile, the Technology University Dublin is a brand new institution that is based on the Technology University systems found in Holland and Germany, similar to the system that institutions like TU Delft uses with a strong emphasis on subjects like Engineering.

Student unions & associations

The Union of Students in Ireland represents almost all of the students studying at third level institutions and it collaborates with the Nation Union of Students in the UK. This means that it can offer support and discounts to the many students in the UK that study in Ireland and to those Irish students who study in the UK get similar support when they travel home. Most universities have sports clubs and societies that will be familiar to UK students and international students can participate in any of them. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is a huge sporting association in Ireland and many universities have their own teams associated with it, like the University of Limerick's Wolves GAA Club.

How to prepare to live in Ireland

Ireland has a warm and welcoming culture that prizes socialising and having fun very highly. Pub culture is a big part of socialising and most people will drink alcohol, but some do not because of traditional Catholic beliefs. Pub's welcome non-drinkers and often – even during the daytime – they will have music playing. Most local people would consider the pub to be the centre of the local community, so expect to meet up with people and make friends there and relax. Prepare to socialise when you come to Ireland and get used to talking with people you've just met!

What about the climate?

If you’re an international student from warmer climes, it’s important to be prepared for chillier weather than you might previously be used to. Although it’s not quite as cold as the north of the UK, the Emerald Isle is so called for a reason! Those famous green fields are green because they receive plenty of water – in short it rains a great deal. Ireland’s climate is influenced by the warmer weather from the continent of Europe heading northwards and the colder climate from the Artic heading south. This means that the north of Ireland is much cooler than the south of Ireland and the south coast is a popular holiday destination within Ireland as well as with other Europeans.

Student case study

Italian student, Cristina Miceli, is currently studying an MA in Journalism at the University of Limerick. She has this to say about the benefits of choosing to study in Ireland. “Never in my life had I had such a great first impact with a foreign country. Ireland welcomed me like an old grandma who has not seen her nephews for months, with warm tasty food and gifts.”

Cristina continues, “On the bus to Limerick, a stranger who overheard my conversation and insisted that he would give me a lift to my Airbnb. He made sure I was in the right place and drove off with a smile on his face. Patricia, my first host, welcomed me with a warm and tasty dinner during which I happened to say that I needed a bike. In less than an hour, we were driving to one of her friends who gave me his old bike for free. Patricia even accompanied me to the UL to show me the way. It was my first day in Ireland, I was already in love with its people, and the feeling seemed to be reciprocated!”

You can read more about Cristina’s excellent experiences of studying at UL here.

Cost of living at universities in Ireland

These tables illustrate the cost of living at two different universities in Ireland for international students – as you can see the costs are estimated to be rather similar. Please note these costs do not include the tuition fees.

Technological University Dublin

University of Limerick

Sources: 1 & 2

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