Everything you need to know about studying in Ireland for international students

Everything you need to know before studying in Ireland

Moving to a new country can be as nerve-wracking as it is thrilling. Factor in starting college in a new country too, and it can feel like a lot to handle. At Babylon, we’ve put together this guide on what you need to know before studying in Ireland for international students to help make the process easier. 

Planning the move

How much does it cost to relocate to Ireland?

The minimum amount you need when moving to Ireland is €7,000. This is how much Immigration considers enough to sustain yourself for one year. However, if you’re planning to study and live in Dublin, this figure is closer to €12,000, according to Technological University Dublin. According to their cost of living guide, the average rent outside of Dublin is €499 and €595 in Dublin. 

It’s also important to note that you may have to quarantine in a hotel after your arrival. Be sure to check if your country is on the list of ‘designated states’ that the government has compiled and check it regularly in case of changes. 

Do I need a visa for Ireland?

If you’re coming to Ireland from the EU/EEA, you don’t need a visa or to check in with immigration after arriving. For non-EU/EEA students, you will need to apply for a visa through the new Department of Justice Irish immigration website. The course you wish to apply for, even English-language courses, must be on the Interim list of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) in order to be granted a student visa.  

If you want to go to college in Ireland, you must have a letter of enrolment and fees paid before you arrive. If the course fees are less than €6,000, then you’ll be required to pay the full fee prior to applying for your visa. If the fees are more than €6,000, you have to pay a minimum of €6,000 and evidence of this should be in your letter of enrollment. This minimum amount is an Immigration requirement,  however the college you wish to attend may ask for the full payment of fees in advance.

Important things to note before registering for a course: 

*Immigration unfortunately does not allow you to change or repeat your university course, so don’t make this decision lightly! Choose one you are enthusiastic about, and can see yourself following through to the end.

*English-language students are not permitted to enter the country until in-person classes resume. Visas are not granted for virtual/remote learning courses.

 

College student

Accommodation

Finding somewhere to live is probably one of the most daunting parts of the process. Most Irish colleges offer accommodation — University College Cork, University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University, National University Ireland Galway, University of Limerick all have housing on or near their campus. Your college will have accommodation support on the website, so this is a good place to check first. On-campus accommodation is allocated randomly on a first-come, first-served basis, and is always in high demand, so it’s not advisable to rely on this option when planning your move to Ireland. Also, student accommodation policies have been changing due to COVID-19, so you should check thoroughly with the college before booking a room.

Websites such as Daft and College Cribs have students in mind when listing accommodation, enabling you to look for places close to your university and within your budget. This will typically be a single room in a shared house or apartment, but cheaper options, such as staying in ‘digs’ (renting a room in a family’s home) or sharing a room, are also available. Ireland has also seen an increase in the development of purpose-built student apartment buildings, often with high-end amenities. The cost for renting these apartments however is quite expensive and may be charged weekly rather than monthly. 

After you arrive in Ireland you’ll need to get an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). It  costs €300 per person, so factor this into the costs involved before you arrive.  Non-EU/EEA students must have private health insurance or travel insurance that covers you for the duration of your stay in Ireland to obtain an IRP, but I’ll give you more information about health insurance later. 

 

Getting around, healthcare, and working in Ireland

What is the main transport in Ireland?

In terms of public transport, the bus is the most popular and wide-spreading way of getting around. Every city has its own bus routes, with Bus Éireann taking you from county to county. Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Derry, Limerick and Galway all have their own suburban rail networks, and Irish Rail commuter trains travel between counties. There are regular rural bus services for rural areas.

The cheapest and easiest way to avail of public transport is to get a Leap Card. It’s a travel card that can be used to pay fares on Dublin Bus, DART, Luas, and transport services in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Athlone, Kilkenny and Wexford. It can also be used on commuter and rural bus services within the Transport For Ireland public transport network. The Student Leap Card gives you discounts on travel fares as well as in food and retail outlets like McDonald’s and Boots chemist.

Bike rentals have also become hugely popular here. You can also find three-day or annual bike rental subscriptions around the country, such as Dublin Bikes and Coke  Zero Bikeshare in Galway, Cork and Limerick. You can pick up a bike and return it to any of their bike points in the city, making it a really convenient option. Wherever you’re staying  in Ireland, you’re bound to find a bike rental outlet. 

healthcare worker

How do I access healthcare in Ireland?

Universities have health centres and provide support and treatment for mental, physical and sexual health issues. However, it’s important to note that waiting times can often be long or inconsistent, as university services get overwhelmed from time to time. If you do get an appointment, the fees are usually cheaper than if you were to go to a health service outside of your university. But with the uncertainty brought with COVID-19, these services may not be available in some colleges or running at a limited capacity.

It’s a good idea to register to a GP (general practitioner) so that you don’t have to rely solely on the university’s services and risk long waiting times. You’ll also need a referral from a GP to get appointments with specialists.  You can use this search tool provided by the HSE (Health Service Executive) to find a GP near you. GP visits are between €40-€60 typically, but the costs are at the discretion of the doctor. 

If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you can get necessary medical treatment in Ireland for free. Note that EHIC covers public healthcare only. 

Non-EU/EEA students staying longer than a year will need to get Irish insurance. VHI, Irish Life, Laya Healthcare are the main insurance companies in Ireland, each of which offers student policies.

 

Can international students work in Ireland?

Students from non-EU/EEA countries can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time. During holiday periods (December 15 to January 15 and June 1 to September 30), it is permissible to work up to 40 hours per week. These dates are fixed, regardless of the academic calendar or course dates given by your college. Students from the EU/EEA can get full-time or part-time jobs in Ireland while studying. Ireland’s minimum wage at the moment is €10.20 per hour. 

A PPS (Personal Public Services) number is needed if you want to work while here. You must have a signed offer of employment that details when your job started or is due to start. This letter should be on company headed paper with the employer’s contact details and employer/company registered number. You’ll find more information on the government’s website on how to get a PPS number and what it’s used for. 

You’ll need an Irish bank account in order to be paid. AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, and Permanent TSB are the most popular banks for students as they offer student accounts tailored to your needs.

It may be helpful, and for some employers, it could be essential, for you to have an Irish phone number. Every Irish phone mobile network provider gives a choice of bill pay or pay-as-you-go options, with great deals on features such as internet use and international calls.

You should now be feeling confident and excited to make the move to Ireland. Remember, you can ask your university’s Student Union for guidance with any questions or concerns you may have!

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About the author

Natalie Madden

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