EU/EAA Students: A guide to university applications in Ireland

Struggling to get the uni application done properly? Or not sure about how to apply to a PostGrad course? Fear not, we are here to save you! We have put together a bullet-pointed guide on how to apply to universities in Ireland as an EU/EAA Student.

The European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EAA) can easily provide people with the chance to study in one of its Member States. Ireland has recently improved its pioneer status and welcomes more than 20% of EU and EAA students to its Universities, Institutes of Technology and other third level courses. Enticing more international students looking to broaden their horizons, the country can boast some great courses where one can forge their minds. 

International Students Charts

International Students Charts

However, for some, the process can be tricky. Going abroad for university can be exciting, stressful, and sometimes even a bit confusing at first. There is a lot you have to deal with logistically and socially that you might not have to deal with as a local. But surely the most challenging of all these tasks is definitely the application form. Understanding these difficulties, and with application deadlines in Ireland getting closer, Babylon has decided to help you understand the application procedure: what do you need as an EU/EAA Student to apply to an Irish university? Language Certifications? Reference Letters? A huge pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? Here this guide for you.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

If you are an undergraduate student from the EU or the EAA and want to apply to courses in Ireland to your further education path, please bear in mind that you will be required to fulfil some criteria.

  • Being an ordinarily resident* in an EU/EEA member state

OR

  • Having completed full-time post-primary education in EU/EAA  

OR

  •  Having worked full-time in the EU/EEA for three of the five years 

OR

  • Holding a passport from an EU/EEA state 

OR

  • Having an official refugee status and having been granted humanitarian leave to remain in Ireland.

OR

  • Being ordinarily resident* in the EU/EEA for three of the five years immediately before admission to an Irish third-level institution.

* Ordinarily resident in the EU/EAA means being resident in the EU/EEA/Swiss Confederation for a minimum of 183 days in any one calendar year, for a minimum of 3 years.

Academically, it is necessary to:

  • Have an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or any equivalent Highschool Diploma that will correspond to the Irish Leaving Certification
  • Register with the CAO (Central Applications Office) website and upload your university choices where you will be chosen according to your IB Diploma score and your Language Certification score. Bear in mind that the deadline is pretty tight and you will need to pay a registration fee. So don’t waste much time.
  • Do the HPAT assessment test, only for those who want to apply to Medicine or any Medical related faculties (Pharmaceutical Studies, Biology, Chemistry, etc). This is a selection test designed to assess a candidate’s potential aptitude to study in the Allied Health Professions. It is still necessary to apply through the CAO and present the IB Diploma or Highschool Diploma to be enrolled. 
  • Present a language certificate which can prove your proficiency in English and your ability to understand English well enough to attend courses in the language. You must show a proficiency in English to be accepted for a degree programme. Check the university web site you’re applying to understand the minimum score required. Below you can find a general score accepted by the majority of universities and faculties in Ireland.
Examination Level Required
Irish Leaving Certificate in English Ordinary level grade D
GCSE English Language Grade C
GCE O-Level English Language Grade C
IELTS Composite score of 6.0- 6.5 with not less than 6.0 in any one component
Cambridge Proficiency Grade C
Cambridge Advanced Grade A
ETAPP Grade C1
PTE Academic A minimum score of 36
Fees

In terms of fees, universities in Ireland are embracing a Free Fee Initiative. This means that most undergraduate students are exempt from paying tuition to attend university. Those exempted are people who already have an undergraduate or post graduate degree, and those who are repeating a year of study. However, a student contribution fee of approximately €3,000 applies to all students. In order to qualify for this fees, an applicant must have been living in the EEA or EU or Switzerland for at least three of the five years before starting the course. For more information please check the HEA (Higher Education Authority) web site here.

The CAO application deadlines and fees are:

All fees are Non-refundable Fee Closing Date
Normal application €40 1 February (5.15pm)
Online discounted rate €30 20 January
Online Application Fee Closing Date
Late Online Application €40 1 February (5.15pm)
Late Paper Application €80 1 May (5.15pm)
Change of Mind Nil 1 July (5.15pm)

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POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS

If you successfully completed your degree, and are now stuck in between postgraduate courses and choices, Ireland offers a great selection of PostGrad courses, Master Research or Taught options. Making a decision on which course pick after graduation is never easy, however, the application procedure is. These are the bare necessities required for EU/EAA Students who want to apply to a post-graduate course in Ireland.

  • Proof of residence in the EU/EAA for the past 3 years before the admission.
  • Proof of working experience or Job Contract full-time in EU/EAA  for three of the five years immediately before admission;
  • A Passport from an EU/EAA state 
  • Certificate of further or higher education in the EU/EAA for three of the five years immediately before admission.

In terms of Academic Requirements, students are asked to:

  • Submit their application form for the interested course directly to the university website.
  • Fill the form online in the course “Apply” section of the university website. 
  • Possess a minimum 2.1 honours class degree or 2.2 from an Irish university or its international equivalent (click here to find out more on the NARIC Ireland Foreign Qualifications page)
  • Present a Letter of Recommendation (if not more than one, this is at the discretion of the university)
  • Present a Language Certificate to prove proficiency and understanding skills of the English language. The qualifications recognised by many universities are: 
  1. University of Cambridge – Use of English Examination
  2. TOEFL
  3. IELTS
  4. Cambridge Proficiency
  5. Cambridge Advanced
  6. ARELS oral examination
  7. ETAPP
  8. PTE Academic

Universities set their own standards for English language ability so please contact your university of choice for confirmation of how you can provide evidence and the minimum score you’ll need.

NB: If applying to Graduate Entry Medicine Degree you’ll need to do the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT). 

Some PostGrad programmes are using a platform called PAC. This platform was created to accept, process and assess applications, centrally, for the Professional Master of Education (P.M.E.) in the following universities: 

Fees

Postgraduate fees at most Irish universities are calculated according to student nationality.

EU and EEA students can expect the cost for a year of full-time study to be between €4,000 and €9,000. Fees for more expensive programmes in subjects such as business or medicine will be closer to €20,000-€35,000. However, it would be better to check the university website where you want to apply to have further info on costs. 

All in all, is a very tricky procedure. It could require time, but surely well spent.  Ireland is a pioneer country, ready to welcome many international students. So, let us know if this helped you and break a leg with your application form! 

About the author

Carlotta Cutrale

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