Ireland is definitely not an unusual option when it comes to thinking about studying in a European country. This country offers first-class education in a traditional yet simplistic and modern environment that is ideal for any student. It comes as no surprise that these Irish universities attract thousands upon thousands of students on an annual basis. So why is Ireland a very tempting choice?

The Irish take great pride in their history and culture; the customs, myths, and traditions of the Gaelic people still play an important role in their daily lives today. Although the original tongue of Gaelic is rare, it still contributes to the wealth of Irish culture that students can experience. The Irish people are known for their warmth, humor, and kindness. These factors collectively make it a great choice for students, especially those interested in ancient history, literature, nature, and a genuine artistic experience.

Universities in the education system are at a world-class level and offer some of the finest education in Europe. With a relatively cheap cost of living and affordable tuition fees (not forgetting the availability of scholarships as well), it definitely comes across as a reasonable and logical option. Another attractive reason to study in Ireland is the provision of a 12-month work visa that is typically offered to foreign students who are interested in working in the country after their graduation.

In this article, we bring to you a series of the finest universities in Ireland that offer an all-rounded experience for students. Feel free to go through the information we have provided and we hope they give you a firm understanding of what this country can give to its students.

Top Universities in Ireland for International Students

 1. Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College is the only constituent of the University of Dublin. It is a prestigious public research university based in Dublin that was founded in 1592. Interestingly, while the University of Dublin aimed to establish a collegiate system similar to that of the Oxbridge universities, Trinity College was the only college that was created. It has now grown to become the most elite university in Ireland as well as a leading university in Europe.

This university in Ireland for international students consists of a diverse student body of around 16,000 students; added to this, the campus celebrates how truly international it is with a large foreign student population who come from 122 different countries. With its high prestige, the university is a perfect starting point for students who wish to launch themselves into their ideal careers. An active student life can be experienced by the students, with over 150 societies and sports clubs offered by the students’ union. With the availability of cutting-edge facilities, its innovative study environment, and the vibrant atmosphere of the capital city of Dublin, students are bound to have an amazing experience during their academic studies.

2. University College Dublin

University College Dublin (commonly referred to as UCD) is a public research university and (like the name suggests), it is based in Dublin. It is not connected to Trinity College and was in fact founded as the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854, before becoming the university college. It is located in its large campus in the borough of Belfield, just outside the city of Dublin. 6 major colleges and faculties constitute the academic organization of the university; collectively, they offer over 200 different courses of study for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

UCD is most acclaimed for its research intensity and contributions. Major institutes include the Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory and cutting-edge research departments in the field of physics. Thus, students have access to the fast-paced dynamics of research during their studies. Added to this is the highly active students’ union that provides numerous opportunities for clubs and societies, including sports as well.

Annually welcoming hundreds of foreign students, approximately 25% of the student community of UCD come from outside of Ireland which further makes it one of the most international institutions of higher education in the country.

3. University College Cork

Located in the city of Cork, University College Cork (also known as UCC) is an affiliated institution to the Queen’s Colleges of Ireland. Founded in 1845, the university is considered to be a highly elite institution in the country and provides education for over 20,000 students. The campus is known for its varying architecture from historic buildings to cutting-edge modern facilities. Academically, the major units of the university include medicine and health, humanities, and architectural education.

UCC aims to provide a wholesome and well-rounded academic experience for its students. The UCC Students Union oversees and represents the diverse student population and caters to them with over 150 societies and sports unions. Added to this, the UCC has a high international student population who come from over 110 different countries; it has consistently carried high ratings from foreign students in terms of teaching excellence and cultural diversity on the campus. With a degree from UCC, the university assures that foreign students are guaranteed to launch a productive and successful future in terms of career or further study.

4. Dublin City University

Among the various institutions of higher education that are in the capital city of Dublin, Dublin City University is another prominent example. A more recent addition to the education system in Ireland, the university was established in 1975. Since its inception, it has rapidly grown into a prominent university that provides academic education for nearly 20,000 students. It is also one of the only major Irish universities that offer online distance education that includes around 2,000 students. The DCU is spread across 5 main campuses although the majority of its facilities are based in the main campus in north Dublin. An extensive range of courses of study are offered for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Furthermore, the university has been consistently ranked among the QS top 100 under 50 young universities and the Times top 150 under 50 in the world.

It draws in hundreds of foreign students annually through the many exchange programs such as the Erasmus, in addition to numerous study abroad courses as well. Currently, over 2,300 international students from 109 different countries study at the DCU. With its high post-graduation employment rate, the university further claims that approximately 92% of the students are employed within 6 months of their graduation.

5. National University of Ireland, Galway

Based in the city of Galway, which is also the European Capital of Culture for 2020, the National University of Ireland, Galway is a prestigious public teaching institution that was founded in 1845. It offers a comprehensive, systematic, and multidisciplinary range of educational courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students through five main colleges and over 10 departments and schools. Numerous research institutes are operated by the university as well such as the National Center for Biomedical Engineering Science and the Irish Center for High-End Computing, all of which are key contributors to the development of Ireland.

Furthermore, students have access to the thriving and active student union with societies that range from academic and performance to religious and cultural – the university declares that there is something for everybody! Approximately 12% of the student population also consists of foreign students. With only a 2-hour drive from Dublin, the university’s location in a convenient and attractive environment is yet another tempting feature that attracts students. Coupled with the innovative and highly international reputation, prestigious rankings, charming location, and elite academia, the university is definitely a very wise choice for prospective students who wish to pursue their academic studies at an Irish university.

6. Royal College of Surgeons

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is an educational institution located in Dublin. Established in 1784, while it is the official institution responsible for the specialty of medical surgery in the country, it also operates a prestigious school of medicine which is also the largest of its kind in Ireland. With over 3,000 students who study at this school, it is currently an elite department that offers comprehensive and high-quality medical education. The college offers a diverse range of courses in the medical field that include not just Medicine and Dentistry but also physiotherapy, pharmaceutical sciences, and nursing.

It celebrates its international and diverse atmosphere with students who come from over 60 different countries and its alumni network is richly spread throughout the globe. The RCSI encourages its students to actively take part in extra-curricular work, particularly those that have a positive effect on society and cultural awareness. Its students’ union is highly active and is home to the Biological Society which claims to be one of the oldest medical societies in the world. It further hosts several international collaborations with other medical schools in the world (of which the most prominent are with Johns Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic). The college also operates two international campuses in Penang and Selangor.


We hope that this article on the best universities in Ireland for international students was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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