International students studying in Ireland will be required to pay either EU or non-EU fees. This can be determined by both residence as well as nationality, so non-EU nationals may qualify for the EU rate in some circumstances. Some EU students may also be eligible for the ‘undergraduate free fees’ programme.
Are you an EU or non-EU student?
According to the Irish Department of Justice, Equality and Law reform, a student will be regarded as an EU student if you fulfil one of the criteria listed below:
- You are a national of an EU member state and have received all of your post-primary education within an EU member state
- You are a national of an EU member state and have been residing in an EU member state for three of the five years prior to the start of your course
- You have been in full-time employment in an EU member state for three of the last five years prior to the start of the first year of your course (please note, this only applies to students aged over 23)
- You have ordinarily been a resident in an EU member state for three of the five years prior to the commencement of the programme and your parents have been in full-time employment in an EU member state for three of the five years prior to the start of your course (please note, this only applies to students under the age 23)
Click here for the full list of EU member states
Free fees programme
Ireland currently operates a system of free undergraduate fees for EU nationals who meet certain criteria – the Free Fees programme. Those with official refugee status and EEA/Swiss nationals with long-term residency in the EU may also qualify. The free fees scheme does not apply to any postgraduate courses. Courses in private colleges are also excluded.
The free fees programme means eligible undergraduate students will have their tuition fees paid by the government. In order to qualify for the free fees programme you must:
• Be a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland
• Have refugee status or official leave to remain
• be studying an undergraduate course of at least two years duration
• not already have an undergraduate degree or failed a previous course
• have lived in an EEA country or Switzerland for three of the five years prior to starting your course
There are certain exceptions to the course requirements for students studying at an Institute of Technology. Students who are eligible for free fees will still have to pay any Student Service Charges to the institution. If you are not eligible for free fees, you may still be eligible for EU fees. Otherwise, all other students must pay non-EU fees.
For more information, please see the Citizens Information website.
Non-EU tuition fees
Tuition fees in Ireland vary considerably between different institutions and courses. You should contact the institutions you are interested in to check their fees, as they can change frequently. As a guideline, here are some average fees for undergraduate non-EU students (based on 2016/2017 fees):
- Medicine and related: €45,000-52,000
- Engineering: €9,750-23,000
- Science and technology: €9,750-22,000
- Arts and humanities: €9,750-20,000
- Business: €9,750-18,000
Figures from Education in Ireland.
- Medicine and related: €4,000-31,000
- Engineering: €9,250-24,000
- Science and technology: €9,250-45,000
- Arts and humanities: €9,250-22,000
- Business: €9,250-34,500
Figures from Education in Ireland.
EU tuition fees
EU tuition fees vary, though are likely to be less than non-EU tuition fees. Students are often required to pay a Student Services Charge (also known as a Registration Fee) in addition to tuition fees. This covers costs for student services and examinations and will be a maximum of $3,000 (as of 2016).
English language courses
English language fees vary considerably and the costs will depend on what is included in the course, where it is and the content. Be wary of courses that seem very cheap, as they may not be accredited and therefore may not offer a quality course.
Financial help and scholarships
Some EU students who do not qualify for the free fees programme may still be able to benefit from various other schemes and grants, such as the Student Grant which can help towards costs of higher education, along with a number of scholarships from specific institutions. Some EU students may also qualify for a maintenance grant to help with living costs.
There are limited opportunities for financial aid or scholarships for other non-Irish students studying in Ireland. Some individual institutions in Ireland offer scholarships – contact them directly to ask about this or see the Education Ireland website. You may also be able to access financial help from the government or organisations within your own country.
You can also find more information about fees, grants and scholarships on Student Finance – Ireland.
Living costs can vary depending on your lifestyle, location and accommodation. In general, you should be able to live on a budget of €10,000-15,000 each academic year (nine months), not including tuition fees, if you are studying at a university in Dublin. You should budget (for one academic year) for:
- Accommodation: €3,600-8,100. Apart from tuition fees, accommodation will probably be your biggest expense.
- Textbooks and materials: €600-650. You can reduce the costs of textbooks by trying to find second-hand copies and looking online for the best deal. You will usually be given a list by your institution of necessary textbooks before starting your course. You will also be able to rent some books from the university library to save further.
- Food and household: €1,500-2,500. Food costs can vary depending on where you live and shop. You may spend around €70-100 a week on food (allowing for some meals bought at cheap restaurants)
- Other expenses (such as travel, social life, healthcare): €1,200-3,500. Your socialising and travel expenses will vary greatly depending on your lifestyle choices. As a guide, the average bus fare in Ireland is €2.50, an average cinema ticket is €7-12 and an average nightclub entrance is €7-15.
Student room in Brookfield Village, Cork City Student Accommodation
University College Dublin suggests that you will need approximately €688 per month (excluding accommodation and tuition costs).
Please note that these are only approximate costs – individual students’ own living expenses can vary greatly according to location, lifestyle and activities. Try our Cost Calculator for a more detailed breakdown of your expenses. Visit the National Consumer Agency for tips about money and budgeting in Ireland.
The currency in Ireland is the Euro. If you are studying in Ireland for longer than 90 days you will need to be able to prove that you have access to €7,000 to support yourself. This is an essential element of your Garda registration, which alerts border control that you are legally residing in the country. To attain proof of this, you will have to open an account with an Irish bank and request a statement.
Choosing a student bank account in Ireland
Banks are usually open between 9:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday. Most institutions will have a bank branch on campus or at least an ATM machine. Most banks provide foreign currency and traveller’s cheque services.
There are various different banks in Ireland and most will offer some kind of student account. You should research the different options before choosing to open one. Student accounts don’t usually have transaction fees, however there is an annual government stamp duty (€2.50-5) on bank cards which you may have to pay.
If you are an international student, you will normally need a letter from your institution confirming that you are a student and your address in Ireland. You will also need your passport with your student visa in it, proof of your home address and sometimes a deposit to open an account. You may also need additional documents; contact your chosen bank to ask about the requirements.
Many banks may offer you free gifts to encourage you to open an account but make sure you check all the fees and charges associated with the account before agreeing to open one. You may also want to find out:
- Is there a branch close to your home/institution?
- Can you use phone/internet banking?
- If you plan to take out an overdraft, compare the overdraft and penalty fees charged by each bank