Table of Contents
- Is Ireland Safe?
- Why Choose Ireland?
- Final Thoughts
Ireland may be a small country, but it's got plenty to offer international students. From its world-renowned universities to its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes, the so-called Emerald Isle can be a place to fulfill big dreams.
If you’re looking to pursue higher education in Ireland, know that you’d be joining a diverse and welcoming community of students from all over the world. A 2019 study showed that international students contributed over €386 million to the Irish economy every year and are a vital part of the country educational sector.
Now that we are navigating a post-pandemic era, it's only natural to have questions about safety and whether it is still wise to study abroad, especially in a tiny country like Ireland. Here's a look at what you can expect as an international student in Ireland during these times.
Is Ireland Safe?
You should know that all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Ireland as of April 2022. This means that residents are no longer required to wear masks or maintain social distancing, and travelers are free to enter the country without having to show proof of vaccination.
However, that doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19. The CDC currently places Ireland in its "Level 3: High" risk category. This simply means that if you are planning to study in Ireland, you should still follow the recommended health and safety guidelines such as getting vaccinated, maintaining good hygiene, and wearing a mask when in crowded spaces.
In terms of crime rates, Ireland is generally peaceful. Wait, that an understatement – Ireland is the third most peaceful country in the world, according to the latest findings by the Global Peace Index.
This is because Ireland has low crime rates, friendly relations with its neighboring countries, and almost zero spending on national defense. However, as with any country, there are areas in Ireland that are more prone to crime than others.
So yes, it is safe to study in Ireland – as long as you take the necessary precautions and are aware of your surroundings.
Why Choose Ireland?
When you think about places to study abroad, Ireland might not be the first country that comes to mind. But it should be! There are plenty of reasons to consider the Emerald Isle for your higher education pursuits. Here are the main ones:
Ireland has a strong reputation for education
Not only does Ireland boast some of the oldest universities in the world, but it also has a strong reputation for education more broadly. It was recently ranked as the fourth best country for tertiary education by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Institutions like Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and the National University of Ireland Galway are well-known for their strong research programs and commitment to academic excellence. They attract top students and faculty from all over the world, which creates a truly international learning environment.
Ireland's universities offer a wide range of programs, including medicine, arts, psychology, finance, criminology, business, and mathematical science.
Ireland is an English-speaking country
This is perhaps the most obvious reason, but it's worth mentioning nonetheless. As an international student, you'll likely feel more comfortable and have an easier time navigating your studies in a country where English is the primary language.
Ireland has a vibrant history and culture
Although there is no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow here, Ireland is still a country with a rich and vibrant history. Beginning way back with its ancient Celtic roots, the Emerald Isle has long been a source of culture and creativity. This is evident in everything from traditional Irish music to the country world-famous literature.
Ireland is even home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Giant Causeway and Skellig Michael. The first is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The second is a rocky island off the coast of Kerry that was once home to an early Christian monastery.
But two sites aren't enough for Ireland, of course. Five others are on the UNESCO tentative list, including the Burren, the Historic City of Dublin, and the Céide Fields and North West Mayo Boglands.
As an international student in Ireland, you'll have the opportunity to experience this culture first-hand. You can explore Irish heritage sites, attend concerts and festivals (like the famous St. Patrick Day), and taste traditional dishes. There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved in the country's thriving arts scene.
The Irish are friendly and welcoming
With a population of 5 million people, Ireland is a small and intimate country where you can easily get to know the locals. The Irish are known for their friendly nature, and this extends to students from other countries. You’ll quickly find that they are happy to help you navigate your way around the country and settle into your new life.
Enjoy grabbing a drink with your new friends in one of the many traditional pubs that dot the country. Just be sure to try a pint of Guinness, one of Ireland most famous exports!
Ireland has a strong economy
Ireland is known as the Celtic Tiger because of its strong economic growth in recent years. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union. This has led to plenty of opportunities for international students looking to work in Ireland after graduation.
Many multinational companies have operations in the country, including Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. So if you're hoping to start your career in tech, Ireland could be the perfect place to do it.
There are also plenty of opportunities in other industries. For pharmaceuticals, you have big names like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. Financial services institutions like HSBC, Deloitte, and PayPal also have a strong presence in Ireland.
Living in Ireland is relatively affordable
While tuition and other school-related costs can be expensive, the cost of living in Ireland is relatively affordable compared to other countries. You can find affordable housing options and student discounts on food, transportation, and other everyday expenses.
Ireland is a beautiful country
Ireland is not called the Emerald Isle for nothing. The country is home to stunning coastlines, rolling green hills, and picturesque villages. This makes it the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some tranquility.
Whether you want to go for a hike in the Wicklow Mountains or take a scenic drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors in Ireland.
And if you need a break from all that fresh air, again, you can always enjoy a pint of Guinness in one of the country's many traditional pubs.
Ireland has a very high quality of life
All of the factors above have contributed to Ireland's high quality of life. And to cement that fact, the United Nations ranks Ireland as the second-best country in the world for quality of life.
When you live in a place that has low crime rates, a rich culture, a thriving economy, beautiful scenery, and excellent education, you're bound to live a good life. This is what you can expect as an international student in Ireland.
1. Does Ireland accept international students?
Yes! With all COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, Ireland has reopened its doors to international students and visitors. You no longer need to present vaccination proof or go through quarantine.
2. Is the admissions process for international students difficult in Ireland?
No, the process is actually quite straightforward. For undergraduate courses, you simply need to file applications at the Central Applications Office. You may need to take an English proficiency test like the IELTS, but this would depend on your country of origin and chosen course of study.
If you're accepted, you will then need to apply for a student visa at your local Irish embassy or consulate. Make sure to do this well in advance of your course start date as the process can take several weeks.
3. What are the current COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland?
All COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Ireland in April 2022. Foreign travelers are no longer required to quarantine or show vaccination documents. You can also walk the streets mask-free.
However, as with most countries in the world, Ireland still deals with COVID-19-related cases and deaths. So even if there are no more restrictions, it is still best to practice social distancing and safety protocols.
Other than that, Ireland is a generally safe country, with remarkably low crime rates.
There is a whole world of opportunities to explore as an international student in Ireland. With its excellent universities and rich culture, the Emerald Isle has something to offer everyone.
Although the pandemic has caused some uncertainty, know that the Irish government is committed to keeping students safe and ensuring that they can continue to pursue their studies in a world-class learning environment.