Ireland Higher Education

The higher education system in Ireland is marked by British traditions. The teaching is usually in English, but more and more educations are being created in Gaelic. In Ireland, there is a shortage of labor in, among other things, the IT field and the construction and pharmaceutical industries.

In 1921 the country became independent, and in 1937 it was given the Celtic name Éire. The northern part of Ireland, Northern Ireland, still belongs to Great Britain.

The Irish people are descended from the Celts, and many people, especially in the west, speak Gaelic, which is a Celtic language. Gaelic is the official language, and since independence in 1921, Gaelic has been taught in schools. However, English is the mother tongue of almost the entire population. Only a small percentage speak exclusively Gaelic, primarily on the west coast.

There live approx. 3.7 million people in Ireland. There has recently been a sharp increase in the population of Ireland, and approx. 50% of the population is under 29 years of age.

Worth knowing

Vocational training in Ireland

Based on 9 years of schooling, you have the opportunity to take a vocational education in Ireland:

  • Leaving Certificate Vocational Program, LCVP, 2-3 years. The length depends on whether you also complete the first, optional year, “transition year”, where in addition to being prepared for further studies, you also work on your social and personal development. In addition to internships, vocational subjects are included in the LCVP. You usually complete 5-7 subjects, i.a. Irish, English, communication and two business / trade subjects. LCVP provides access to higher education in Ireland.
  • Leaving Certificate Applied Program, LCA, 2 years. The education is targeted at the individual’s needs and can focus on general subjects or on vocational subjects. The education is an option for those who cannot complete the general vocational education, LCVP or high school (Leaving Certificate). The LCA does not provide direct access to higher education in Ireland.

It is also possible to complete a large number of vocational courses and get a proof of the course you have followed. The courses are of different lengths and are offered in a wide range of areas. The Quality and Qualifications Ireland, issuing certificates and guarantee the quality of the courses.


If you are considering taking all or part of your own internship abroad, read the section on internships abroad for vocational education under the section Primary school and upper secondary education.

Higher education in Ireland

You can take a higher education at a university, e.g. in the humanities, natural sciences and medicine. You can also take a professionally oriented higher education within e.g. business economics, language, engineering or music. The Quality & Qualifications Ireland, issues higher education diplomas that have not taken place at a university. On the QQI website, you can find a list of educational institutions approved by the QQI.

The University of Dublin is the oldest institution and was established in 1592, while the newest universities are The University of Limerick and Dublin City University, both of which were established in 1989.

The teaching is mainly in English. In the Gaelic-speaking areas of Ireland, several Gaelic courses are offered.

The average age of the students is usually lower than in Denmark, because most continue directly after high school as 17-18-year-olds.

The academic year runs from September to June and is divided into two semesters or three trimesters.

Higher education

Professionally oriented educations, you can e.g. take on Institutes of Technology and on Colleges.

Profession-oriented educations

  • Level 5 Certificate, 1 year of professional studies
  • National Certificate, 2 years of professional studies
  • National Diploma, 3 years of professional studies. The education is typically completed in 1 year in continuation of a 2-year National Certificate.

University degrees

  • Ordinary Bachelor Degree, 3 years. An Ordinary Bachelor Degree does not provide access to master’s level studies.
  • Honors Bachelor Degree, 4 years or 1 year in extension of an Ordinary Bachelor Degree. Educations within e.g. architecture and medicine are of longer duration. An Honors Bachelor Degree provides access to master’s level studies.
  • Masters Degree, 1-2 years in extension of an Honors Bachelor Degree. The duration is 1 year if it is a “taught” master, ie. based on classroom teaching and research, and 2 years if it is research based.
  • Postgraduate Diploma, 1 year of postgraduate studies, specializing in one area.
  • Doctorate Degree (PhD), 3-4 years. The education typically lasts 3 years if it is an extension of an Irish master’s degree, while it lasts 4 years in extension of a bachelor’s degree.

You can find a list of recognized higher education institutions at the Higher Education Authority.

Profession-oriented educations

Professionally oriented educations, you can e.g. take on Institutes of Technology and on Colleges

  • Certificate, 1 year of professional studies.
  • National Certificate, 2 years of professional studies.
  • National Diploma, 3 years of professional studies. The education is typically completed in 1 year in continuation of a 2-year National Certificate.

Application for higher education
If you are applying for a basic education, you must send your application to the Central Applications Office, CAO. CAO publishes an application booklet with information on how to apply for admission and which educations you can apply for. A different procedure applies to educational institutions in Northern Ireland. It is a good idea to first contact the individual institutions to find out more about their admission criteria.

If you want to apply for a postgraduate program, you must send your application directly to the desired institution, which has individual admission procedures and requirements.

There is a resource center for guidance called the National Center for Guidance in Education / Leargas.

Admission requirements

A Danish upper secondary education usually gives access to higher education in Ireland. There is a rift about the places, which are distributed according to the average grade.

Language proficiency

It is expected that foreign students can speak English sufficiently to be able to follow the teaching. Some institutions require a language test. The TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is recognized. It is a good idea to ask about the language requirements of the educational institution where you want to apply.

Application deadlines

You can find the application deadlines on the CAO’s website. See the universities’ websites for application deadlines for postgraduate programs.

Recognition of foreign educations in Denmark

If you have completed a publicly recognized education abroad, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education

Work in Ireland

Unemployment in Ireland in July 2014 was 11.5%.

However, there may still be a shortage of highly skilled labor in the IT field and the pharmaceutical industry. There is also a shortage of workers who speak languages ​​other than English. Read more about the Irish job market at

Job search

You can receive unemployment benefits for 3 months while you apply for a job in Ireland, see more about this in the article Job search abroad in the folder Paid work.

You can get information about working in Ireland from the EURES Advisers at the country’s Job Centers or from the Irish employment service FAS.

You can also find vacancies on the following Irish job search portals:


In addition, a number of Irish newspapers have job advertisements, e.g. The Irish Times, Sunday Business Postand Irish Examiner.

Work-and residence permit

As a Dane, you can stay in Ireland for 3 months without a residence permit. If you are coming to Ireland to study, you must report to The Immigration Office immediately upon arrival and present the following documents:

  • passport
  • proof of admission to an educational institution
  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence

You get a residence permit by contacting the nearest police (Garda) with the same documentation.

See also the article Visas, work and residence permits.

Practical conditions


As a student, you can usually find a room adjacent to your educational institution. Most educational institutions also have housing guides where you can get help finding a home.

The Irish Eurodesk office has created a nice ” information package ” for all young people who come to Ireland to study or work.

Facts about Ireland

Population: 4.5 million

Languages: Gaelic and English.

Employment: In July 2014, unemployment was 11.5% (OECD).

Residence permit: Available from the local authorities (Garda).

Ireland Higher Education