Education in Ireland


Whether you are a parent, a student or an adult wishing to return to education, it is useful for you to become familiar with the Irish education system. Whatever area of education you wish to pursue for yourself or for your child, it is important to find out as much as possible about the options that are open to you. On the Department of Education and Skills website you can find information about education in Ireland and a guide for parents to the Irish education system (pdf).

Pre-school education is usually provided by privately funded childcare facilities or providers. The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age.

At primary and post-primary level, there are different types of schools including multi-denominational and co-educational schools. You can also choose from schools that teach the curriculum through Irish (Gaelscoileanna). You can read more information in our documents, Moving your child to an Irish primary school and Moving your child to an Irish secondary school.

If you are moving to Ireland for third-level education, there is a range of third-level options; universities, institutes of technologies and the colleges of education are substantially funded by the State. In addition there are a number of independent private colleges.

Further education comprises education and training which takes place after second-level schooling but which is not part of the third-level system. It includes programmes such as Post-Leaving Certificate courses; the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (second-chance education for the unemployed); programmes in Youthreach for early school-leavers; other literacy and basic education; and self-funded evening adult programmes in second-level schools. There are opportunities for adults who wish to return to education or continue their education on a full-time or part-time basis.


State-funded education is available at primary and post-primary levels, so you will not have to pay fees unless you choose to send your child to a private school. Pre-schools are generally run on a private and fee-paying basis, though there may be some State help in certain circumstances. You will have to pay fees for third-level education unless you qualify for "free fees".

Page edited: 1 November 2016