Gateway to International Education


Ireland’s worldwide reputation for high quality education is built on the solid foundation of commitment to excellence. Ireland is a beautiful island, combining contemporary modern cities with an un-spoilt countryside, cityscape steeped in history and a rich natural habitat. Renowned for friendliness, our safe, English speaking country offers the warmest of welcomes to students from all over the world. Join the growing number of international students choosing Ireland to fulfill their potential.

A Friendly, Safe Environment

Ireland is a friendly, safe country In 2010, Lonely Planet named Ireland the most friendly country in the world. The Global Peace Index rates 158 nations worldwide on measures such as conflict, safety and security in society and militarization. In 2012, it ranked Ireland the sixth most peaceful place on Earth. In 2011, the OECD put Ireland in the top ten in its Better Life Index. In general, Irish people were more satisfied with their lives and had more positive experiences in a typical day than the OECD average. What’s more, the Irish scored second highest in the OECD for citizens volunteering time, giving money and helping a stranger.The Irish have a huge maternal side and love to welcome or ‘mother’ new guests.  If staying with a host family, you’re sure to be treated as one of the family. If not, there’s always a greeting or a helping hand just around the corner. Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions are absolutely committed to ensuring that visiting students settle in to their new environment and have all the information needed for an enjoyable stay. All our higher education institutions have a designated staff member to whom international students can turn for any assistance. Simply put, we’re a friendly, welcoming bunch of people, and that’s why international students get so much out of the Irish experience.

English Speaking Country

While Ireland has its own language and distinct cultural identity, English is the universal spoken language.  In fact, Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone, and that’s one of the reasons why so many multinational businesses locate their European base here.

It also makes Ireland a great choice for international students. English is now the global language of business. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review more and more multinational companies, including Airbus, Daimler-Chrysler, Fast Retailing, Nokia, Renault, Samsung, SAP, Technicolor and Microsoft in Beijing, are establishing English as their common corporate language in order to facilitate communication across geographically diverse locations and business functions.

What’s more, it’s the language of choice in the technology world. An estimated 565 million people use  English on the internet.In total, Harvard Business Review estimates that there are close to 385 million native English speakers in countries like the UK, US and Australia; about a billion fluent speakers in formerly colonized nations such as India and Nigeria, and millions of people around the world who’ve studied English as a second language. In fact, English is spoken at a useful level by some 1.75 billion people worldwide.For us Irish, it’s second nature. Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature. Our writers have had a ground-breaking impact on English literature, we’ve enriched the language with thousands of Irish-derived words and phrases and, for a small country, our authors have amassed a huge haul of literary awards.English also cements our close ties with Britain and USA and our window on the world.  According to Ernst & Young’s 2011 Globalization Index Ireland is the most globalized nation in the western world in term of GDPs, and, after Hong kong, it is the world’s most globalized nation anywhere on the planet.

Extensive Choice of Courses

Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions have over 5,000 courses on offer across the spectrum of medicine, science, technology, engineering, business, law, languages, literature, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology and other humanities as well as the creative, visual and performing arts. Degrees are available at ordinary and honors Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate levels and you can also choose undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas over a full range of disciplines.

Internationally Recognized Qualifications

Ireland is in the top-ten worldwide for its higher education system, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011.To put the learner in control, the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland has developed a National Framework of Qualifications known as the NFQ system. This 10-level framework enables comparison of different qualifications from different education institutions and ensures their recognition – both in Ireland and overseas.What’s more, qualifications in the NFQ are quality assured. This means that you, the learner, can have confidence that your course, and the institution at which you are studying, are reviewed on an ongoing basis by the Irish Government. Quality assurance is intended to ensure that all learners have a high quality learning experience regardless of where you are studying.

Importantly also, the Irish NFQ system is compatible with the ENIC-NARIC (European Network of Information Centers/National Academic Recognition Information Centers), which facilitates the recognition of academic qualifications throughout Europe and internationally in countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


Long Tradition in Education Excellence

Everywhere you go in Ireland, you will find a genuine and deep-seated love of learning. Today, almost 1 million people (almost a quarter of our population) are in full-time education. And according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011, Ireland is a leader in higher education achievement. But that’s nothing new. As far back as 500 AD, Ireland, and its monks and monasteries, were at the center of learning in Europe, earning Ireland the title Land of Saints and Scholars. As Christianity took hold, our monastic schools became centers of excellence for people from all over Europe. Among the Irish monks that set out to spread their learning in foreign lands were Saint Columba, who founded a famous monastery on the Scottish island of Iona, and Saint Columbines, who founded monasteries in France, Germany and Italy.

Spectacular and intricate works of art were created, including the and Ardagh Chalice  Book of Kells, in a new and unique style that was later to inspire the Gothic and Romanesque movements in Western Europe. A great Irish philosopher of the time, Johannes Scotus Eriugena, was to become one of the founders of scholasticism. And as much of Europe entered the Dark Ages with the collapse of the Roman Empire, Ireland remained a beacon of culture, preserving the classical languages and providing sanctuary to many of the continent’s great scholars and theologians.

As the medieval era moved on, Ireland’s first university was authorized by Pope Clement V in 1311, founded in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.  Meanwhile, Trinity College received its charter and university status from the English Crown in 1592 and was to be at the heart of Irish scientific discovery and academic achievement in the centuries that followed.

After a series of doomed rebellions, by the 18th century, Ireland was firmly under English control.  To consolidate power, a series of harsh and repressive Penal Laws were enacted, which, among other things, prevented Irish Catholics from voting or holding office, from purchasing land and from receiving a Catholic education.  But learning still continued in what were known as hedge schools – where instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, and in some cases, even Latin and Greek, took place in the shadow of a hedge, among a ruins or in a dry stone barn.

As the century progressed, the Penal Laws were relaxed, and religious orders emerged with a mission to offer excellence in education to even the poorest of the Irish poor.  Edmund Rice founded the Christian Brothers, and Nano Nagle founded the Presentation order. A century on, their aspirations became official policy when the Irish Education Act of 1892 made education free and mandatory for students between the ages of six and 14.In the early twentieth century, things were coming full circle as the best and brightest of Ireland’s religious orders did what our monks over a thousand years earlier had done, taking up the mantle to spread knowledge overseas. As in Ireland, they became deeply assimilated in local societies and offered education, as well as healthcare and humanitarian aid, to the poor.  Many of those who built new democracies out of former colonies across Africa and Asia received their education from twentieth-century Irish missionaries. At the same time, between the 1790s and 1850s,  Ireland’s third level sector was developing. What today is Maynooth University was established in 1795; the genesis for today’s universities in Cork and Galway came in 1845, and what was eventually to become University College Dublin followed in 1854.  Known then as the Catholic University of Ireland, the first rector, John Henry Newman, was the author of the seminal text The Idea of a University. Meanwhile, the first Irish female professor (before any in the UK) was Mary Ryan, Professor of Romance Languages, appointed at Cork in 1910.In the 1960s, the concept of  Institutes of Technology (ITs) was born as flexible and dynamic response to the needs of  industry and business. Ireland’s first such colleges opened in 1970, and, Ireland’s newest IT, the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown, opened in 2000.

Today, there is still a deep appreciation of education in Ireland. Our total investment in knowledge, including higher education, increased by an average annual rate of over 10% in the past decade – compared with EU and OECD averages of around 3%. Furthermore, our educational attainment levels are among the highest in the world, with over 40% of people aged between 25 and 36 having benefited from third level education.

Innovative and Creative Culture

Did you know that Irish people were behind all these life-changing inventions? The submarine, color photography, the modern tractor, the guided missile, the nickel-zinc battery, the portable defibrillator, the Gregg system of shorthand speed writing, the modern stethoscope, rubber shoe soles, soda water, a treatment for leprosy, the aircraft ejector seat and chocolate milk! Over the centuries, Ireland was bred scores of brilliant inventors. Irish man Robert Boyle is known as the father of chemistry. Francis Rynd invented the hypodermic syringe. Charles Parsons developed the world’s first steam turbine, and Ernest Walton, working with John Cockcroft, became the first person to artificially split the atom. We’re an ingenious lot who punch well above our weight internationally when it comes to creativity in art, literature and music and ingenuity in science and technology.In business, the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon was one of the fathers of modern economics and monetary theory; Fyffes, with its ‘blue label’ banana, created the first and oldest fruit brand in the world, and Irish-founded Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, brought the concepts of no-frill flights to Europe.Music, song-writing and dance is in our blood. Irish music has influenced country, blue grass, folk, jazz and rock music in North America, Europe, Australia and beyond; Riverdance has given birth to a renaissance in Irish dance throughout the world, and Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest more times than any other any other country!Irish writers such as Samuel Beckett and James Joyce have had a revolutionary impact on English literature, influencing writers and artists in countries and cultures across the world.Irish man Philip Treacy – milliner to the rich, beautiful and famous – is one of the top hat makers in the world, having lifted hat design to an haute couture art form.When it comes to technology, our achievements are just too numerous to mention…Technology from Kerry-based Altobridge enabled AeroMobile to make history when they launched the world’s first commercial in-flight mobile communications service.

The Irish company Daon supplies biometric software to governments around the world, allowing them to establish and confirm the unique identity of billions of people for border control and social security.Technology from the Dublin company Havok allows some the world’s best-known developers to reach new standards of realism and interactivity in games from Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony…You get the picture!

Leading Global Companies in Ireland

 Companies who require a skilled, educated and highly capable workforce to drive their success chose to locate in Ireland.Despite a worldwide recession, Ireland continues to attract a huge amount of foreign direct investment (FDI), in fact, and Ireland is the second most attractive country globally for FDI – after Singapore. Over 1,000 FDI giants in ICT, Social Media, Pharmaceuticals and Finance have made Ireland the hub of their European operations, with names such as Google, HP, Apple, IBM, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pfizer, GSK and Genzyme.A report ‘Investing in Ireland’ – a survey of foreign direct investors – shows that 97pc of multinational executives plan on maintaining their current stake in Ireland. The survey, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that the areas of financial services, technology and pharmaceuticals will account for the majority of new jobs.

     Irish exports are now at record levels and currently outstripping imports by 2 to 1 providing a    huge healthy trade surplus the envy of countries multiple times the size of Ireland.Apart from a strong foreign owned multinational sector, Ireland also has vibrant indigenous industries. Companies competing on the world stage including CRH, Smurfit Kappa, DCC, Glen Dimplex, Greencore, Kingspan, NTR and Paddy Power.Half of the medical technology companies in Ireland are Irish and there is a vibrant software sector exporting mainly to the UK and the US. Ireland has a natural competitive advantage in the food and drinks sector. Ireland is the largest exporter of beef in Europe and fourth largest in the world, in fact one in five beef burgers eaten daily in McDonald’s restaurants across Europe is made from Irish beef!

Best for Entrepreneurs and Business

 Guess where the next Silicon Valley could emerge?  A recent article by Fortune says Ireland and names Dublin in the top-seven new cities worldwide for start-ups.Measured on a per capita basis, we’ve got more venture funding available than in any other country in Europe and we’ve got more technology accelerator programs. In fact, three of Europe’s top eight accelerator programs are in Ireland. It’s hardly surprising that this country is buzzing right now with entrepreneurial creativity and dynamism – from internet and gaming start-ups to new businesses launching products that aim to save lives and protect the environment. According to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, each month during 2011, about 2,200  people set up new businesses in Ireland. For a small country, with a total population of just 4.5 million, that’s a lot of drive and entrepreneurial ambition! The report also found that entrepreneurs are held in higher esteem here than in most countries. Ireland today is brimming with youthful energy. Over a third of the population is under 25 years of age.  And we welcome entrepreneurs and foreign-owned businesses from all over the world. Recently, Ireland introduced special visa programs and Enterprise Ireland introduced a new International Start-up Fund to support entrepreneurs that want to start-up or relocate a business to Ireland. We also do well in World Bank rankings, which put Ireland in the top-ten worldwide for ease of doing business. According to the World Bank, Ireland is fourth in the world for the availability of skilled labor and openness to new ideas; sixth for labor productivity; seventh for the availability of financial skills; and seventh for the flexibility and adaptability of people.

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