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Education System in Ireland1

Education System in Ireland

Amidst the rich, distinct culture and universities bustling with international students, education in Ireland has been highly praised, along with its long history.


Today, within the education system of Ireland, a plethora of exceptional study programs are being offered for international students of all ages. Most of the institutes in Ireland are government-funded, which levels up the education system to a greater extent.


Though the Irish education system is designed around as the UK follows, you must understand how it works before going for a study abroad application.

Education System

Ireland’s most qualifications fall into The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The NFQ defines the standard of educational qualification in Ireland and divides all qualifications into ten levels.

  • Level 1-3: Basic Education
  • Level 4-7: Certificates and Diplomas
  • Level 7-8: Undergraduate Degrees
  • Levels 9-10: Post Graduate Qualifications


The conventional education system in Ireland includes three basic levels:

  • Primary Education: 8 years
  • Secondary Education: 5-6 years
  • Tertiary or Higher Education: vocational and technical training, full degree, and the highest post-graduate levels: starts from NFQ level 6 onwards.


If you want to pursue higher-level education in Ireland, there are several options available to choose from. The third-level or higher education system in Ireland consists of universities, institutes of technology, and colleges of education which are collectively known as higher education institutions or HEIs. Third-level qualifications are Levels 6-10 in the NFQ framework.

Irish Universities:

These universities are state-funded but are autonomous mostly. There are in total seven universities in Ireland, all rank among the top positions worldwide. Within these universities, one could find a broad range of graduate and post-graduate programs in various fields.


International students can decide to study at one of the following universities.

  1. University College Dublin, Dublin
  2. The National University of Ireland, Galway
  3. University College Cork, Cork
  4. Dublin City University, Dublin (Direct admissions for UG, PG & pathway programs)
  5. University of Limerick, Limerick
  6. Maynooth University, Maynooth (Direct admissions for UG, PG & pathway programs)
  7. Technological University Dublin (Direct admissions for UG, PG & pathway programs)

Institute of Technology (IoT)

Ireland has 14 institutes of technology established around the country. One can find various courses run in these colleges like engineering, computing, science, business, catering, music & many others. Various study options are available such as certificate, diploma, and degree level, with a different entry requirement at each institution.


Institute of Technology (IoT) of Ireland:
Athlone, Blanchardstown, Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Dun, Laoghaire, Galway and Mayo, Letterkenny, Limerick, Sligo, Tralee, Tallaght, Waterford

College of Education

Colleges of Education intend to provide training to students aspiring to become teachers. The primary school teachers get trained under a specialized three-year Bachelor of Education program and an 18-month post-graduate diploma.

Private colleges

Apart from state-funded colleges, many other fee-paying third-level educational institutions offer courses like professional vocational training, law, medicine, agriculture, and business. Most of these colleges have links to universities or professional associations, while others have Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) accreditation.

Requirements for Enrolling in Ireland Universities

The universities in Ireland mostly use English as a means of teaching. Thus, you will be required to prove your English level proficiency through any recognized Language Proficiency Tests. The requirements for every college are different. Generally, they ask for an acceptable English language proficiency test, like IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE.

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