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International Student in Ireland

Ireland is a country that has always attracted international students because of its healthy economy and has always welcomed international students with open arms. Observing the last eight to ten years, Ireland has encountered an increase in the number of foreign students who have chosen Ireland as their study destination. This steady influx of students is as a result of Ireland's community, hospitality, out of the box programs, a pleasant mix of different cultures from around the world and a rigid and encouraging structure which is very accommodating for students. Ireland also possesses a very beautiful landscape which is perfect and conducting for learning naturally which is also another encouraging feature. In Ireland, there are over 150,000 international students in the undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD levels of study. Ireland has continued to keep the flag flying as a choice destination for especially African students and other students across the globe who are in search of a conducive environment to learn. Ireland is also considered safe due to the fact that the Irish Crime rate is well below the US average. Ireland is also ranked one of the most satisfactory countries for international students, boasting of over 90% satisfaction. Ireland also has most of its universities leading the international student satisfaction rankings. Schools like Maynooth University and the University of Limerick are among the top 5 of universities with the highest student satisfaction. Students are also permitted to work and have the opportunity to apply for the work permit after their study in Ireland. International students are also allowed to apply for permanent residency.


International students have also been a bearer of good tidings in terms of Ireland's economy and other aspects of its society. The revenue generated from the tuition of international students in Ireland is estimated at about 1.5 billion Euros. The Irish economy has experienced a serious boom in its economy due to the influx of international students which has aided a speedy and steady development in the Irish society. This has helped the creation of jobs and also a better standard of living in the society.


International students have also brought in diverse cultures which has also aided their tourism sector while also contributing their diverse intellect, efforts and hard work to the workforce through the Irish international student stay back scheme which allows graduates to stay back up to two years in Ireland after which they can apply for a Green card  or return to their country.

The growth trend of international students in Ireland has an inclining pattern as the variation in figures indicates. Here is the breakdown from 2011 to 2015:

2011           ------  141,226

2012           ------  142,718

2013           ------  147,420

2014           ------  151, 300

2015           -----    156,717

Source – HEA

Origin of international students in Ireland

Students of different nationalities come to study in Ireland but the ratio of each country compared to another is in no way even as Asia constitutes the largest amount of international students at 37% with China as the country with the highest amount of foreign students. North American indigenes constitute about 24% of the population. Coming in third is the EU constituting 21% and other parts of the world dividing the remaining percentage among themselves. Students from countries like Britain, USA, Australia Nigeria and Brazil are some of the countries that produce some of the foreign students studying in Ireland. Ireland hosts quite a diverse bunch of international students from across the globe ready to learn.

Distribution of students by Institutions

International students are represented across all levels of learning institutions from college, university level and post graduate level. As expected, a larger portion of foreign students populations (60%) are enrolled at universities, 30% are pursuing a college education, 6% in institutes of technology and the remaining 4%.

Top Hosts

International students are located in different parts of the city but the distribution of international students differs from state to state.

A glance through the numbers will corroborate this. Dublin is the leading host of international students with a percentage of 29%, Cork comes in second with 14% while Galway is the third leading host of international students with 8%.  Kildare hosts about 5% while Limerick hosts 4%. Tipperary, Wesford, Donegal, Meath, Wicklow and Waterford host about 3 percent respectively.

Levels of Study

There is a presence of international students all levels of higher education from undergraduate to Graduate level. Students undertaking bachelor’s degree constitute the largest number with 40.1%, the other two obvious choices were masters with 19.1% and a doctorate with 18. 1%. The complete breakdown looks are as follows:


Bachelor’s                                40.7%

Master’s                                   19.1%

Doctorate                                 18.1%

Diploma                                   8.6%

Postgraduate Certificate                   3.9%

Associate’s                               3.9%

Language program                            2.3% 

Certificate                                1.5%

Graduate Diploma                             1.4%

Professional Degree                 0.7%

 -Source HEA

Fields of study

There is a range of studies in Ireland for foreign students to choose from. Among many diverse options, Business Administration, Law, Arts and Humanities and Health and Welfare are the most popular fields selected by international students. The statistical breakdown of the amount of international students studying the respective courses is as follows:


Health and Welfare                            10%

Business Administration and Law 25%

Arts and Humanities               14%

Social Science                          6%

Natural Sciences                      8%

ICT                                                         6%

Engineering and Construction 10%

Agricultural Sciences                 2%

Services                                        5%

Education                                6%


International student’s migration

The migration policy of Ireland has helped to solidify Ireland’s reputation as a study destination for international students. Ireland gives foreign students the chance to work while studying for 20 hours a week. Ireland also runs a stay back scheme that allows international student graduates to stay back for two more years and obtain employment in Ireland after obtaining their degree. Ireland also allows international students to transition to permanent residency. Becoming a permanent resident in Ireland requires:


  • Possessing Irish credentials
  • Proficiency in at least one major language
  • Basic Skills
  • Irish work experience

Presently, a lot if the international students have begun to take the option of becoming permanent residents. This has enabled Ireland's economy and workforce to continue to grow and boost the revenue generated by Ireland as a country.

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