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Links to Irish 3rd level colleges

Third-level educational institutions

A wide range of institutions in Ireland provide third-level education. The
university sector, the technological sector and the colleges of education are
substantially funded by the State. In addition, there are a number of
independent private colleges.

The Higher Education Authority
is the statutory agency responsible for the funding of universities, institutes
of technology and certain other higher education institutions. It has an
advisory role in relation to the whole sector of third-level education.

University sector

Universities in Ireland are State-funded, but they are generally autonomous.
There are 7 universities in Ireland. These include:

Technological sector

The technological sector includes institutes of technology which provide
programmes of education and training in areas such as business, science,
engineering, linguistics and music to certificate, diploma and degree levels.
There are 14 institutes of technology located around the country. In the Dublin
area they are Dublin, Tallaght, Blanchardstown and Dun Laoghaire. Outside Dublin they are Cork, Waterford, Tralee, Dundalk, Athlone, Galway and Mayo, Sligo, Letterkenny, Limerick, and Carlow.

Colleges of education

Several colleges of education in Ireland provide specialised training for
primary school teachers. They offer a 3-year Bachelor of Education degree and
an 18-month postgraduate diploma. Post-primary teachers generally do a primary
degree, followed by a postgraduate diploma. You can find more information in
our document on teacher

Other colleges

In addition to State-funded colleges, a number of fee-paying third-level
educational institutions offer courses, mainly in professional vocational
training and business. Some of these colleges are linked to universities or
professional associations and their qualifications may be accredited
accordingly – see below.

Third-level qualifications

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a system
of 10 levels which allows the different standards and levels qualifications to
be compared. A diagram
of the NFQ
is on the website of the Quality and
Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
. Third-level qualifications are Levels 6-10 in
the Framework.

Award of qualifications

In the university sector the 4 awarding bodies are the National University
of Ireland (UCD, UCC, UCG and Maynooth), Dublin University, Dublin City
University and the University of Limerick. Quality and Qualifications Ireland
is the awarding body for third-level educational institutions outside the
university sector. QQI is also the awarding body for further education and
training. It also awards Higher Certificates (NFQ Level 6). More detailed
information is in our document on further and higher education

Universities: The State-supported universities all award
their own degrees and other awards. University students qualify with Ordinary
Bachelors degrees (NFQ Level 7) or Honours Bachelors degrees (NFQ Level 8).
Universities also offer Masters (NFQ Level 9) and Doctoral (NFQ Level 10)
postgraduate degrees.

Institutes of technology (ITs): The Dublin Institute of
Technology (DIT) makes its own awards. The other institutes of technology grant
degrees, diplomas and certificates, which are validated by QQI. Students
generally qualify with Higher Certificates (NFQ Level 6) or Ordinary Bachelors
degrees (NFQ Level 7). Honours Bachelors degrees (NFQ Level 8), Postgraduate
Diplomas (NFQ Level 9) and Higher Doctorate (NFQ Level 10) are also

Other colleges: The other State-supported colleges
generally grant awards that are validated by QQI. The private colleges make
awards, some of which are validated by foreign universities and some of which
are validated by QQI. Some of their awards are not validated by any outside

Progression is a feature of the National Framework of
Qualifications. Often a Level 6 certificate awarded by QQI can offer the
opportunity to continue on to a NFQ Level 7 or Level 8 degree. The Higher
Education Links Scheme allows those with a QQI Level 5 and Level 6 (NFQ)
qualification to progress to higher education. You can get a leaflet about
progression (pdf)

How to apply

If you are thinking of going to college you can search the
Qualifax website for details
of courses. Generally, applications for undergraduate courses in Ireland are
made through the Central Applications
Office (CAO).
You can find more information in our documents on application
procedures and entry requirements
, third-level
and tax
relief for third-level fees.
See below for information about postgraduate

If you think you might qualify for a grant, you will find information on maintenance
grant schemes for students on third-level courses
and grants
and funds available for mature students

Further information

Postgraduate study

You need to consider what kind of postgraduate study you wish to do, what
are the most suitable courses for you and your career and what costs are
involved. Postgraduate study can either be a taught course or research and
generally falls into one of the following categories:

  • Postgraduate diploma: Often this is a vocational course,
    linked to professions such as teaching or librarianship. The subject may be
    different from the primary degree. In some cases it is possible to
    ‘convert’ a diploma to a masters.
  • Masters degree: This can be either a taught course or
    based on research. It lasts 1-2 years and usually involves course work and
    a thesis. Sometimes it is possible to convert a masters to a PhD.
  • PhD: This is a doctorate awarded for a thesis based on
    research. It takes at least 3 years’ study and it must be an original
    contribution to knowledge.

Funding postgraduate study

In general, you will have to pay fees for postgraduate courses. You may be
able to get tax
relief on the fees.
If you got a third-level grant for your undergraduate
course, you may qualify for a grant for postgraduate study in Ireland,
including Northern Ireland.

There are different sources of funding for postgraduate students. Sometimes
financial support is available from the university that is running the
postgraduate course; sometimes you need to apply to an external body. A number
of research bodies provide funding for postgraduate research in Ireland,
including the Irish Research
and Science Foundation Ireland.

A number of scholarships and fellowships for study abroad are awarded
annually by foreign governments to Irish students who are engaged in, or have
completed, a course of third-level education. You can find information about opportunities
for postgraduate study abroad on the website of the Department of Education and
If you wish to study
in the UK
there is a graduate website for the UK called Prospects.

Applications and further information

For postgraduate courses you generally apply directly to the university or
college. You can find information about postgraduate courses and applications
from the careers office in your college or university. If you are applying for
postgraduate courses in the UK you
can apply online to certain universities and colleges.

UCD.The role of UCD within Irish higher education is underscored by the fact that UCD alone accounts for over 30% of international students and over 25% of all graduate students and almost 28% of all doctoral enrolments across the seven universities in Ireland.

Source:Above information and documents obtained from www.citizensinformation.ie 
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