Ireland is a dynamic European nation steeped in culture and tradition, a place with both a storied history and a fresh modern take on arts, music, and emerging technologies. The Irish word "craic" refers to a sense of living one's life to its fullest, and it's with this adventurous outlook that the young, multicultural population of Ireland lives and works. Ireland is a major hub for innovation, start-ups, and research and development, hosting the headquarters of many of the largest financial services and IT companies in the world.
Cork is located in the southwest of Ireland. Being the second-largest city in the country, there are ample opportunities to enjoy student life. The city boasts an affordable cost of living with an abundance of food markets and restaurants, entertainment, and an inclusive and welcoming community. Outside of the city, you'll find the famous Blarney, verdant green landscapes, hikeable hills, and fishing towns along the peaceful coastlines.
HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW
In the Republic of Ireland, "third-level" education includes all education after second-level, encompassing higher education in universities and colleges, as well as further education. Undergraduate programs typically span three years. Admission to higher education is usually done through the Central Applications Office: Students who wish to enter university apply to the CAO rather than directly to individual universities. Admission to programs of study are normally awarded based on students' results in the Leaving Certificate Examination or an international equivalent. Each university has its own minimum entry requirements. These often include English or Irish and math, while some additionally require a student to have taken a modern continental European language (French, German, Spanish, or Italian). Individual programs will have their own entry requirements as well, such as courses in science for STEM programs. Third-level attendance is generally very high.
STUDYING IN IRELAND
The structure of classes greatly depends on the type of module. Some are more hands-on, while others follow a more traditional format of lectures, readings, and papers. Irish universities typically emphasize writing, so modules may require essays throughout the semester. Professors expect students to be independent and resourceful in regards to assignments. Instructions or guidelines may be more vague than students from other cultures are used to - however, questions are welcome.
Accepted Fall/Academic Year students at UCC will receive instructions for online enrollment and registration in mid-August; Spring semester students will receive instructions in mid-November. The steps to register are as follows:
1. Online Enrolment
2. Online Module Selection
3. Issuing student ID Card
4. Confirmation of Module Registration
If you are from outside of the EU, you must complete a minimum of 15 hours scheduled contact time per week in order to qualify for an Irish student visa.
Exams & Grading
Similar to many European educational systems, high grades in Irish universities are rare and require exceptional achievement.
The grading scale at UCC ranges from 0-100%, as shown below:
1H - First Class Honours: > 70%
2H1 - Second Class Hons, Grade 1: 60% - 69%
2H2 - Second Class Hons, grade 2: 50% - 59%
3H - Third Class Honours: 45% - 49%
Pass: > 40% - 44%
Autumn Examinations occur in December (exact dates will be provided in UCC's information guide for the relevant year), while Spring/Summer Examinations occur in April and May (exact dates will be provided in UCC's information guide for the relevant year). Please note that there is a possibility of exam timetable conflicts occurring for students who choose to take modules across faculties (departments). If this should happen, please contact the UCC International Office in order to discuss making alternative arrangements.
Transcripts will be sent to ISEP Global a few weeks following the end of term. Be sure to check with your host coordinator to ensure all is completed to allow for timely release of your transcript. Detailed information can also be found in your ISEP Acceptance Package.
Visa and Residency
COVID-19 Update: Visa and Residency guidelines are subject to change and may be updated without warning a result of COVID-19 governmental regulations. Students should review the Special Conditions of Placement in their ISEP Acceptance Package for the most current information.
Please note that students should ALWAYS check the website of the embassy/consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence first, as the information in this handbook regarding visa application instructions is subject to change without warning.
First, check the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service at www.irishimmigration.ie to see if you require a visa or pre-clearance for Ireland. EU citizens do not require a visa to travel to Ireland. Visiting Students from the US do not require a student visa. They are however, required to register with Immigration in Cork. All non-EU citizens must register with Immigration for long term residency, even if you do not require a visa to travel to Ireland.
If your program is 90 days or less, and you are from a visa required country, you will need to apply for a short stay ‘C’ visa. If your program is more than 90 days, and you are from a visa required country, you will need to apply for a long stay ‘D’ visa. You can apply for a study visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to Ireland. If you will need a visa, please apply as soon as possible as the processing time is typically 6-8 weeks, or longer depending on circumstances.
Upon arriving in Ireland, an Immigration Officer will stamp your passport with short term permission to stay in the country. Please ensure your student status is recorded when you enter the country at Immigration, as you cannot change your visa status (e.g., from "visitor" to "student") without exiting and re-entering the country.
It is recommend that you have the following documents ready and officially translated into English when you arrive at Immigrations:
- Your passport (and entry visa, if applicable)
- Your Letter of Acceptance for your program of study
- Evidence of tuition fees paid, scholarship details, or US Financial Aid
- Private medical health insurance, with a minimum coverage of €25,000 for in-hospital treatment in an Irish hospital
Long term permission to reside in Ireland is obtained by registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). You must do this within the time limit that is stamped into your passport. You will need your immigration documents on hand. (Please be sure all documents are officially translated into English, if applicable.)
Although the Irish tend towards informality, there is some etiquette to keep in mind:
When meeting people for the first time and when saying goodbye, it's appropriate to shake hands. Your handshake should be firm, and it is expected for you to make eye contact. Female friends may be greeted with a single "air kiss" (as is common in other parts of Europe).
In conversation, the Irish are generally friendly but can be reserved. Topics that might embarrass others are avoided, and they tend to mistrust those who "overshare." As one might expect, politics and religion can be touchy subjects. It is recommended that visitors do their best not to make assertions or assumptions (particularly in mixed company).
Health and Safety
Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference the Health and Safety section of the ISEP website for general information regarding health and safety abroad.
- ISEP expects changes to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for 2021 and 2022 programs. If the student's host country, host university, home university, home country, or travel provider require a COVID-19 vaccination, students must comply with that requirement. ISEP will notify students if we become aware of changes in the terms of participation for their program.
- Detailed information about Ireland can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. Non-U.S nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections regarding travel to Ireland.
- Please review the CDC's Health Information for Travelers to Ireland.
-If you’re planning to bring your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready. More information can be found here, and please contact your Student Services Officer and ISEP Coordinator with any additional questions.
Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ireland uses the euro, which has the same value in all euro-zone countries. There are seven euro notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros) and eight euro coins (one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and one and two euros). It is smart to keep track of exchange rates between the euro and your home currency.
Banks in Ireland are open on weekdays from around 9:30-10:00am and close at 4:00-4:30pm. Most banks have one day per week where they will remain open until 5:00pm, and will have main branch offices in towns and cities open on Saturdays from around 10:00am to 1:00pm.
If you open an Irish bank account, the bank will usually provide a combined ATM and debit card (often called a "laser card"). ATMs are common across the country, but as in other locations around the world, it is worth investigating what banks are most prevalent in your area. Most banks in Ireland have an option for a student account. These accounts often offer rewards like cash incentives or special rates. However, it is recommended to always be cautious and fully read the terms and conditions on any account agreement. In order to open a student bank account, you will need proof of your full-time enrollment in a university program (among other items).
Sources of Information
State Department Smart Traveler
Ireland.com: The official website for Irish Tourism