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
Accepted students at DCU will receive instructions for enrollment and registration ahead of the semester start from the Mobility Office.
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 Irish grading scale 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 e for the relevant year), while Spring/Summer Examinations occur in April and May (exact dates will be provided in 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 or DCU Mobility 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
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 or Dublin. 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 you are given permission to enter the state, the immigration officer will place a stamp in your passport which sets out the duration and conditions of your stay in the state. The stamp placed in your passport by an immigration officer gives you permission to stay in Ireland up to the date indicated on the stamp. If you will be residing in Ireland for more than 90 days, you must register with your local immigration officer within 90 days of your arrival in the country. If you are residing in Dublin, make an appointment here. If you are residing outside of Dublin, you need to register with your local Garda Station.
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.
As of July 1, 2023 students that hold a non-EU passport are required to register with immigration during their semester. They are required to show proof of access to finances during the immigration appointment.
Students not requiring a visa (includes USA and Canada passport holders) will be required to show proof of access to 4,200 EUR (if staying longer than 6 mo.) or 700 EUR per month (if staying less than 6 months) at their immigration appointment. This increase goes into effect on July 1, 2023.
Students who do require a visa will be required to show evidence of access to at least 10,000 EUR per year of their studies. If the duration of the program is less than 6 months, students must have access to 700 EUR per month of their stay, or 4,200 EUR, whichever is the lesser. This does not need to be shown at first time immigration registration, but does need to be shown at each subsequent renewel of permission. These changes go into effect as of July 1, 2023.
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.
- 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).