If you are interested in studying in a European Union member state, another European country or a country outside Europe this document covers the options available to you. For information about the UK you can read our document about studying in the UK including Northern Ireland.
People choose to study abroad for a number of reasons. Entry requirements may be easier, you may have access to courses that are not available in Ireland or you may simply want the experience of studying outside Ireland. It is important to know the differences between studying in Ireland and studying abroad. You should find out about the application procedures, length of courses, fees and living expenses before you make a final decision on whether a course of study abroad is suitable for you.
If you are a third-level student in Ireland your university or college may have information about opportunities for studying outside Ireland. You can also get information by applying directly to a third-level institution for a prospectus. If you do not have a specific course or institution in mind, there are a number of sources of information on studying abroad:
Many Irish third-level institutions offer their students the opportunity to travel through their course of study, often through student exchange programmes. Irish institutions establish initial contact with institutions abroad and maintain an ongoing relationship with them. Students move between the two institutions on study and work placements and are offered services such as student orientation, language training, and accommodation services. Contact your college for information about any student exchange programmes they may offer.
The Lifelong Learning Programme supports projects and activities that foster interchange, cooperation and mobility between education and training systems within the EU. It is currently available to all member states of the EU, Turkey and the 3 other member states of the EEA (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). The Programme includes:
The EU has education co-operation programmes with the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. These programmes are aimed at developing educational links between the EU and the 5 partner countries. Student and teacher mobility are encouraged by the promotion of student exchange programmes between participating institutions.
Student visas: If you are going to study outside the EU and in a non-European country, you may need a student visa. Each country will have specific requirements for student visas. You should consult with the embassy or consulate of the country where you plan to study for more details.
The International Education Financial Aid (IEFA) website provides a database of financial aid information for students who want to study in a foreign country. The site contains a comprehensive list of grants, scholarships, loan programmes and other information that may be helpful to those interested in studying abroad.
The Erasmus programme provides students with a mobility grant. This normally covers transport costs only.
The Leonardo da Vinci programme offers work placement for students in companies abroad as part of a course of study. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria, you will receive funding from the EU towards the costs of your work placement.
In Ireland maintenance grants under the Student Grants Scheme are available for undergraduate courses of at least 2 years’ duration in a publicly-funded third-level institution in another EU member state. Depending on your income you may be eligible for a maintenance grant provided that you fulfill the conditions as to residence, age, academic attainments and nationality. You can find detailed information on the range of Irish grants and funds for students in further and higher education on the website www.studentfinance.ie.
There are different sources of funding for postgraduate students. Some courses are advertised in the newspapers and include funding. Sometimes financial support is available from the university that is running the postgraduate course; sometimes you need to apply to an external body. Awards are available for a range of subjects, both for taught courses and research programmes. They vary as to amount, duration and whether they only cover fees or include maintenance as well. There are strict eligibility rules and deadlines for application. In addition, there are a large number of postgraduate students competing for limited funding.
Postgraduate research/study scholarships: A number of scholarships 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. Details of scholarships are circulated to universities and other relevant third-level institutions of education. Details of scholarships are also published on the Department of Education and Skills website. If you are interested in applying for these scholarships, you should contact the International Section of the Department of Education and Skills and ask to be placed on a mailing list for the scholarship offers. Application forms and relevant details will then be posted to you when the offers are open to receive applications.
If you are not eligible for a maintenance grant you or your parent may claim tax relief on third-level fees as follows:
Undergraduate courses: Tax relief is available for tuition paid for approved full-time/part-time undergraduate courses in both private and publicly funded third-level colleges in any EU member state. It is also available on full-time/part-time undergraduate courses operated by colleges in any EU member state providing distance education in the State.
Postgraduate courses: You can claim tax relief on third-level fees for postgraduate courses in a university or publicly funded college in another EU member state, including colleges that provide distance education in the state. Tax relief is also available for postgraduate courses in a university or publicly funded third-level college in non-EU countries.
Application forms for student grants are available from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).
You can get an application form for tax relief on tuition fees from your local tax office.
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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.