8 of the best universities in Ireland

Updated on: Jun 27, 2024
8 of the best universities in Ireland
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Ireland is known for its beautiful scenery, friendly people, and of course, its love of Guinness. But did you know that Ireland is also home to some of the best universities in the world? That’s right: this little island has a lot to offer if you’re looking for top-quality education.

Ireland may not be top of mind for study abroad destinations, but it is no stranger to international students. Recent statistics showed that the number of international students in the country has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The report also detailed that business, administration, and law courses were the most popular among the students.

So, if you’re looking for the best universities in Ireland for international students, or more importantly, the best university in Ireland for you, here are eight of our top picks:

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is Ireland’s oldest university, founded in 1592. It’s located in the heart of Dublin City and is world-renowned for its education excellence. In fact, it is currently the only educational institution in Ireland to be included in the Top 100 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings at the 98th spot.

Trinity College offers a broad range of programs across its three faculties: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and Health Sciences. With over 17,000 students from all over the world, Trinity is truly an international university.

Of course, studying here also means you get to experience life in Ireland's capital city. Dublin is a hotbed of culture with some of the country's best nightlife, restaurants, and shopping. You’ll never be bored here!

Also Read: Tuition Cost in Ireland for international students

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University College Dublin

Another Dublin-based university, University College Dublin (UCD) is Ireland’s largest university. UCD has a strong reputation for research and is the second-highest Ireland-based university in QS rankings, coming in at 181.

The university is world-renowned for multiple subjects, with Veterinary Science, Library & Information Management, English Language & Literature, and Archaeology, as the most recognized.

Aside from these, UCD offers over 150+ undergraduate and 360+ postgraduate programs. There are over 30,000 students enrolled currently.

UCD is located on a beautiful campus just south of Dublin’s city center. The university grounds are full of green spaces, perfect for studying or relaxing between classes. There’s also a lively student village on campus with plenty of shops and restaurants.

National University of Ireland, Galway

The National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) is located in the city of Galway on Ireland’s west coast. Founded in 1845, it is one of the oldest universities in the country. It is also recognized as one of the world's elite educational institutions, ranked 258 by QS.

NUI Galway has a strong reputation for teaching and research excellence, particularly in the Colleges of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies; Business, Public Policy and Law; Engineering and Science, and Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences.

Galway is a vibrant student city with a lively nightlife scene. It’s also the perfect base to explore the stunning scenery of the west of Ireland. If an authentic Irish experience is what you want, Galway is the place for you!

Also Read: Why study a Masters in Ireland?

University College Cork

If you’re looking for a university with a strong focus on research-led curriculums, University College Cork (UCC) is definitely worth considering. It has an excellent reputation at home and abroad, as it is ranked in the top 1.1% of universities worldwide. 

UCC’s academic programs are internationally recognized, with 9 subjects ranked in the top 200 globally. A few are healthcare-related: nursing, pharmacy, anatomy and physiology, and medicine. The rest are law, agriculture, English and literature, modern languages, politics, and international studies.

UCC is also located in one of Ireland’s most beautiful cities. Cork is a vibrant place that runs along the River Lee and is known for its 18th-century food market, quirky museums, and lively music and arts scene. You won’t be short of things to do in your spare time!

Also Read: Upcoming Intakes in Ireland

Confused about universities?
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Dublin City University

Dublin City University (DCU) is a relatively new university, having only been founded in the 1970s. However, it’s already significantly impacted the Irish education landscape.

DCU is the top in Ireland for graduate employability rates. This refers to the percentage of graduates finding employment within six months of finishing their studies. In other words, if you’re looking for a university that will help you get a job after graduation, DCU is an excellent choice.

Additionally, if you’re considering starting your own business, the university can support and fund your startup needs through its accelerator program USTART. 

In terms of which program to pursue, DCU offers over 70 courses in Humanities & Social Sciences, Science and Health, Engineering & Computing, Education, and Business. 

University of Limerick

The University of Limerick (UL) is also one of Ireland’s newer universities. But don’t let its young age fool you – this university is a rising star on the international education scene.

UL emphasizes innovative degree programs relevant to the country’s current socioeconomic needs. You can enroll in any discipline under science, engineering, arts and humanities, business, education, and health science.

If you’re athletic, you may be interested in UL’s multiple state-of-the-art sports facilities. The campus houses the UL Sport Arena, one of Ireland's largest indoor sports complexes.

Aside from having facilities catering to major sports, the university also features a sport boathouse, a climbing wall and bouldering arena, and an adventure center for outdoor activities like archery, kayaking, and mountain trekking.

UL’s campus is located along the banks of the River Shannon, just a few minutes’ drive from the city center of Limerick. The university has dedicated bus services that can take you to and from campus, making it easy to get around.

Living in Limerick will also serve students well since the city offers many sports and outdoor activities, cultural spots, and diverse festivals.

Maynooth University

Maynooth University is another outstanding institution. Despite its smaller size (there are just over 11,000 students), Maynooth punches above its weight when it comes to quality. It was named the Best Young University in Ireland by Times Higher Education this year.

Maynooth’s core programs include humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, but the university also offers quality studies for education, business, law, and computer science.

Maynooth is essentially a university town. Aside from the university, Maynooth is also home to the country's only Roman Catholic seminary and Trócaire, Ireland’s most prominent development charity.

South East Technological University

South East Technological University (SETU) is the newest university on this list, as it was established in 2022 by the merging of two institutes of technology. It is the only university in the region. 

Why study here, you ask? Being a newly established institution allows SETU to be innovative in its approach to teaching and research. It aims to be a “beacon for knowledge, partnerships, and ideas” in Ireland’s south east. If those words are not enough, know that the university brings together over 550+ active research staff and multiple research centers.

Currently, SETU offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in technology, business, engineering, the arts, humanities, and sciences. 

Outside the campus, the south east region also offers plenty of activities and attractions. From walks along the coast to exploring medieval castles, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Also Read: Cost of living in Ireland

Why Study in Ireland?

Aside from the quality of education, there are plenty of other reasons why you should study in Ireland. For one, it’s a very welcoming and safe country. The Global Peace Index even ranks it as the third-most peaceful country in the world.

The country is also home to some of the world’s biggest companies, like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. So if you want to seek work opportunities in prestigious enterprises, look no further.

Lastly, there is plenty to explore in Ireland. You can take in the stunning scenery, visit ancient castles, and engage in outdoor activities. You can also have a drink (or two) in one of the many traditional Irish pubs or participate in cultural events.

Overall, Ireland’s excellent education, stunning landscapes, lively cities, and vibrant culture will truly make your study abroad experience unforgettable.

Also read: Study in Ireland for Consultants for Indian Students

Study Abroad in Ireland Now

Now that we've detailed some of the best universities in Ireland for international students, it's time for you to pick your perfect school. If you need guidance, you can schedule a consultation with us!

We'll help you determine the right program and school for your needs and goals. What’s more, we have partnered with some of the best educational institutions in the country to help ease you into your study abroad experience.

Also read: Universities in Ireland with highest acceptance rate


1. Is Ireland open for international travel?

Yes, Ireland is currently open for international travel. The country has lifted all its COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Visitors are no longer required to present proof of vaccination.

2. Can I work while studying in Ireland?

Yes, you can! International students can work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during holidays. This is a great way to offset the cost of living and tuition fees.

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