Updated 9 months ago

Unlike many other countries, Ireland employs a separate agency to receive and process all undergraduate admission applications. The Central Applications Office is tasked with distributing, collected, and evaluating all of the applications for all of the country’s universities. If you have decided you’d like to apply to study an Irish institution for your undergrad degree, then CAO is your first port of call. The only exception to this is if you are a mature student (i.e. 23 years or older) and plan to attend one of the following schools:

Applying for higher education in Ireland

  • National College of Ireland
  • American College of Ireland
  • College of Computing Technology
  • Dublin Business School
  • Grafton College of Management Sciences
  • Griffith College
  • Irish College of Humanities and Applied Science
  • Dorset College, Dublin
  • Portobello Institute, Dublin

In this case, you will need to apply to the school directly.

Once the application is available for your intended year of study, you can apply online. The application option is usually available on the CAO website in November the year before you will attend. You have until 1 February to complete your application for a fee of €25. It is worth looking at the application early to ensure you have enough time to get all of the information together. You can submit a late application until 1 May for an additional fee. If you require a visa to study at the institution then you should hear whether or not you’ve received a place in Round A, or approximately July. If you do not need a visa then you will hear in a subsequent round by the end of August.

Graduate and postgraduate students apply with their prospective universities directly. Application processes, dates, and fees will vary. Check your chosen school’s website for full details.

If you are an EU citizen, it is also worth looking into the Erasmus initiative, running from 2014-2020 that helps place students in other EU countries.

Fees in Ireland

Tuition fees in Ireland vary greatly depending on whether you are an EU or non-EU national, an undergraduate or graduate student, and the school and programme of study. If you are an EU citizen/resident attending as an undergraduate, then the Higher Education Authority may pay all fees on your behalf, so long as you are eligible. Non-EU students will look at paying between €9,750-€52,000 for their undergraduate degrees. Graduate and postgraduate programmes tend to be the same regardless of your nationality at rates between € 3,800-€30,000. There are often scholarships available, however.

Formalities for EEA - EU citizens

Citizens of the EEA-EU can freely study in Ireland without a visa. A valid passport, proof of school registration, and sufficient funds to maintain themselves in the country are all you need.

Formalities for non EEA - EU citizens:

In order to study in Ireland, citizens from outside the EEA-EU have to apply for a student visa. If you plan to study for less than 3 months, you will need student visa type ‘C.’ For courses longer than 3 months, you will need type ‘D.’ You cannot renew or extend a type ‘C’ visa, so many sure you get one for the appropriate duration. A valid passport, a valid address in Ireland, proof of your course registration, sufficient funds, as well as proof of private health insurance will need to be shown upon entry of the country and visa activation.

 Good to know:

Foreign students can work up to 20 hours per week in casual employment on their visas.

 Useful links:

Citizen Information – Student visa
C.A.O. – Central Admissions Office
H.E.A – Higher Education Authority
Department of Education and Science

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.