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Third Level Education


What’s it cost to be a college student in Ireland?

It cost €1,200 per month for my eldest daughter living in a shared house in Galway. She lived frugally (she says). Her rent has varied from €70 to €110 per week. She was taking an art course, so materials are a major expense - about €100 or more per month. All EU residents in place for three years before the student enters college pay a once a year registration fee of around €1,000 but no other tuition.

In 2010, my younger daughter has been living in a shared house in Cork for about €1,000 per month. Her monthly rent including gas and electric comes to about €400 per month. Basic living expenses come to another €100 per week and the other €200 per month gets eaten up by travel expenses and books and assorted frills like doctor visits and her share of pizza. But, then you throw in things like archaeology field trips and choir overseas performances and it all worked out to the same €1,200 per month.

If you haven't lived and paid taxes in an EU country over the last three years, then you don't get free tuition. If you have lived in the EU, then tuition is free. For those under the age of 23 who aren't self supporting, the residence of the parents is what counts. And this is based on your residence before starting the course. For more, see below.

In the Irish system there are very few scholarships. Those who can prove need based on very low family income can get Local Authority Grants. Where such grants once covered all basic student expenses, these days they barely cover the rent. That’s about it in the way of help.

Which means students had better have jobs, rich parents, a hefty bank loan or all of the above. The other common solution is to live at home. Nearly 70% of Dublin students live at home, at least during their first years. A high percentage of students work their way through college, putting in weekends and evenings on the job.

Tuition and Foreign Students

In order to qualify for "free fees":

  • you must be an Irish national or a national of another EU member state and
  • you must have been living in the EU for at least 3 of the 5 years before starting your course.
  • you must be undertaking an undergraduate course of at least 2 years duration and
  • you must not have a previous qualification to the same level and
  • you must not be repeating the year.

Note that second rule. Before starting your course, you must have been living in the EU! So attending Irish university for 3 years will not qualify for further free fees. You will continue to pay through the nose.

Hard Done By - A Cautionary Tale

Here is one person's story:

"We were under the impression that after my inital degree they would consider me a full Irish student and I would be exempt from the thousands and thousands of dollars I was spending. This however was not the case. When I got there they said there would be nothing of the sort. Initally they wouldnt take the check we presented because it wasn't drawn on the right bank. Then when they finally told us that I would never ger a reduction in my fees they had miraculously cashed it."

It's amazing how fast creaking bureaucracy's can move when there's cash on the table.

Costs for Overseas Students

If you then have to pay tuition at the country's biggest university, UCD, the cheapest tuition is 9,500 per year for an arts degree and heads north from there. It costs 19,500 euro for a veterinary degree. Add to that living expenses, books, miscellaneous student fees and the like and it cost at least another 6,700 euro per year in Dublin.

Postgrad courses are cheaper, with tuition in most non-commerce courses coming in around 5,500 euro per year. Commerce studies are much more expensive.

UCD's site is a good place to start. Click on International Students to the left, then Applying to UCD.

Most other colleges, universities will have similar fee structures.

For more information contact:

The International Education Board Ireland,
65 Fitzwilliam Square,
Dublin 2,
Tel. 00-353-1-6612085 Fax. 00-353-1-6768623

The Full Site includes information on day to day college costs, getting a university place, finding student accommodation, student visas, part time work, student visa restrictions, adult education and more.



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