Education System in Ireland - An Overview

Geographical  Location of Ireland

Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on the Earth located in the north-west of Europe. The geography of the island comprises of relatively low-lying mountains which surrounds a central plain with navigable rivers extending inland. The island is known for its lush vegetation and changeable oceanic climate, which helps in maintaining temperature. The amount of land that is wooded in Ireland is about 11% of the total, compared with European average of 35%. There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland. She has a total area of 84,421 km2.  Ireland and Great Britain, together with many nearby smaller islands, are known collectively as the British Isles.

History of Irish Education System

The national system of primary education in Ireland was set up in the year 1831 as a vision by Lord Stanley with its main objective “Students of all sects were integrated into one national school system.”

Education has always been highly valued in Ireland. Even during the historic times of economic, social and political difficulties, the importance and desire for education was very much evident. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the prevailing social and political climate was such that many Irish people had to go abroad to access higher education, using the Irish Colleges network. This debt was more than repaid later by the great diaspora of Irish missionaries, scholars and teachers to the English-speaking world over the last two centuries.

Education at present in Ireland is regarded as a central plank in the social, economic and cultural development of Irish society. There is a high level of public interest in educational issues in Ireland, which has been further developed by the approach adopted by the Irish Government in the formulation of education policy. Irish pupils perform in the top sectors in international studies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) PISA evaluations. Employers, both national and international, affirm the quality of graduates from the Irish education system.

Ireland’s World Rankings

The seven public universities in Ireland are all ranked within the world’s top 700 universities in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings, as is one of the 14 institutes of technology. Three of these universities are even ranked in the top 200 list, and the list goes like this-

  • Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is at No. 67
  • University College Dublin (UCD) is at No. 13
  • University College Cork is at No. 190

Compulsory Education in Ireland:

The compulsory education in Ireland is from age six to sixteen or until one has completed three years of second level (post primary) education. Since there is no specific national provision for pre-schooling in Ireland, the schools accept children on or after their fourth birthday.

Education system in Ireland:

The Irish Education system provides primary, secondary and tertiary education for its students. School education is compulsory in Ireland from age six to sixteen or until one has completed three years of second level (post primary) education.
  • Primary School Education:
    1 - 8 years

  • Secondary School Education:
    Years 1-3 Junior Cycle
    Year 4 Transition
    Years 5-6 Senior Cycle

  • Tertiary School Education:
    - Primary Degrees
    - Postgraduate Degrees
    - Postgraduate Diplomas
    Colleges of Technology
    - National Certificate
    - National Diploma
    - Primary Degree
    - Postgraduate Degree
    Colleges of Education
    - Primary Degree
    - Postgraduate Degree
    Independent Colleges
    - Diploma
    - Primary Degree
    - Postgraduate Degree
    - Professional Qualifications

Standardised Tests or Entrance Exams:

Students must prove their English language aptitude for studying in the Republic of Ireland. It is also recommended that students should contact the admissions office at each school to find out which tests are accepted.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Cambridge English for Speaker of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

International Students:

The Irish Universities and schools offer a wide variety of courses for students around the globe in each location in Ireland.  A student can choose from one of the seven great colleges and universities as their study abroad destination in Ireland. Locations range from the centre of sophisticated Dublin to a small village in County Clare and everything in between. All courses in Ireland are taught in English. Semester system, summer, and year terms are available in all four program locations. Students receive 12-15 credits for a semester and 3-6 for a summer session.
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