Monthly Archives: June 2011

10 Websites Every International Student Should Know About

1. International Affairs Office, NUI Galway

The International Affairs Office website is a one-stop-shop for information pertaining to prospective and current international students at NUI Galway. Information on how to apply, entry requirements, study visas, fees etc., are all included as well information on Orientation and Student Services.

2. Irish Council for International Students (ICOS)

The Irish Council for International Students is an independent organisation advocating for the rights of international students in Ireland. The ICOS website offers information and advice on many aspects of studying in Ireland, including courses, language requirements, information for students with disabilities and housing.

3. Students Union, NUI Galway

The Students Union is a representative body for all students at NUI Galway. As well as campaigning on student issues, the SU also organises many social activities and provides a wide range of support services

4. Education in Ireland

Education in Ireland is an official Irish government agency tasked with promoting educational opportunities for international students in Ireland. The Education in Ireland website provides a wealth of information on all aspects of studying in Ireland, including college profiles, scholarships, featured programmes and general information about studying and living in Ireland.

5. Embassy World
Plain and simple, the Embassy World website provides a search engine of embassies around the world; useful if you need to make contact with your country’s embassy in Ireland.

6. The Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service (Non-EU Students)

The INIS is the government agency responsible administrating immigration, citizenship and visas. The INIS website provides information for visa required citizens on obtaining a visa to study in Ireland as well as  registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) after you arrive.

7. Facebook

Hardly needs an introduction, but Facebook is a useful tool for researching college opportunities and connecting with other international students online. NUI Galway has a general Facebook page aimed at students, staff and alumni and a Study Abroad Facebook page specifically for international students.

8. Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter is probably known to most students, but maybe you didn’t know that you can follow the International Affairs Office, NUI Galway at @StudyInGalway for latest news, features and advice.

9.  Galway Advertiser

The Galway Advertiser is a free weekly newspaper and a great source of information on what’s going on in town each week. The website offers a free online version of the paper to download, as well as listings for local music venues, cinemas etc., and is a popular source of rented accommodation in Galway.

10. Google Maps

Very useful for navigating your way around Galway, especially for those with smartphones. Check out the International Affairs Office’s customised map of Galway, showing the location of the various Student Residences, main shopping areas and places of interest in relation to the NUI Galway campus.


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The Irish Higher Education System

As a prospective international student, you’re probably aware that education systems can vary (sometimes considerably) between different countries.

While experiencing new ways of learning is for some one of the main reasons to study for a degree abroad, it’s interesting to note some of the basic differences between the education system in your host country (in this case Ireland) and what you may be  familiar with in your home country.

For this reason, here’s a general introduction to the Irish higher education system for the benefit of prospective international students.

1 Degree Programmes

For historical reasons, the higher education system in Ireland is based largely on the British system. As in the UK (and USA), Ireland has traditionally had a two-cycle system of higher education: Undergraduate (Bachelor degree) and Graduate (Masters and PhD).


Bachelor degrees are usually of three or four years duration, though specialised professional programmes such as Medicine take longer. Yes, that’s correct, in Ireland you can study Medicine as an undergraduate student.

Undergraduate students enter university on a specific Bachelor degree programme. For example, the programmes such as the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Engineering etc., are all commonly offered by the various Irish universities.

Different Bachelor degree programmes may have different entry requirements (see below). It’s important to remember this when applying, because if you are not accepted for a specific programme at your chosen university,  the same university may accept you on to a another programme with different requirements.

You’ll notice that students at Irish universities tend to specialise in a certain areas of study from their first year of university. The classes taken by an undergrduate are determined by the programme they’re admitted to. Also, students here don’t have general education requirements and don’t generally take electives from outside their area of study.

Graduation Day at NUI Galway

Graduation Day at NUI Galway

This means that if you’re a burgeoning Scientist, you can concentrate on studying purely Science subjects or, if you’re a budding Historian, you won’t be required to take Calculus (unless of course you want to!).

This might be different to your home country, but if you’re unsure about what exactly you want to study, remember that at NUI Galway you simply need to choose a general area of study (e.g. Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Science etc.) when you apply. You don’t necessarily need to know what specific subject (major) you want to study (e.g. History, Economics, IT or Chemistry etc.) within your chosen area of study.

This is because we also offer a number of ‘open’ degree programmes, where students can select a broad range of classes in their first year before specialising in year two. The best example is probably, the Bachelor of Arts (Omnibus) programme. This is a multidisciplinary programme where students select 4 subjects in First Year from a broad range of subjects across the humanities, languages and social sciences etc., before narrowing their focus down to 2 subjects in Second Year (double major).

For example, you might choose to study French, Economics, History and Philosophy in First Year. On entry to Second Year you drop 2 of your 4 original subjects, so in this example you might choose to pursue French and Economics for a Joint Honours (double major) degree.

For students who know exactly what subject they want to study, we also have a wide range of more specialised degree programmes, including Biomedical Engineering, Marine Science, Accounting etc.

Graduate Studies

After completing a Bachelor degree,  a student may decide to go on to pursue a Master’s degree. Master’s degrees are highly specialised and usually take one or two years to complete. There are two general types of Master’s degrees:

    1. taught Master’s, which consists of classes, seminars, coursework and a minor research dissertation. A taught Master’s usually takes 1 year but some take 2 years to complete. 
    2. research Master’s, which consist of working on a research project under faculty supervision usually for 2 years.

As in the UK and the USA, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree requires working on an original research project, usually over 4 years, before producing a thesis.

Admission Requirements

As mentioned above, entry requirements for Bachelor degree programmes can vary. Certain programmes may have particular pre-requisites from your high school studies. For example, a student applying for Engineering would need excellent grades in Mathematics, whereas a student wishing to study Business or a Humanities degree may be required to have a modern European language. Please refer to the NUI Galway website for country specific requirements.

Entry to a Master’s degree programme usually requires a Bachelor degree in a cognate discipline with good grades. Similarly, a student with excellent grades in their Bachelor degree may be considered for direct entry to a PhD programme.


There are 7 universities in Ireland. These include the four constituent universities of the National University of Ireland (1-4 below) and three others.

  1. NUI Galway
  2. UCD
  3. NUI Maynooth
  4. UCC
  5. Trinity College (University of Dublin)
  6. DCU
  7. University of Limerick.

The 7 Irish universities are largely publicly funded, though they each retain a high level of autonomy in matters such as matriculation, curriculum and the awarding of academic degrees under the Irish Universities Act, 1997.

As well as the 7 universities, there are also fourteen Institutes of Technology (IOTs) in Ireland. With the exception of DIT, the IOTs don’t have degree awarding powers and generally offer more vocational focused programmes in the  science and technology subjects.

For more information, check out our other blog entries on Making the Grade , a guide to the Irish grading system and An Irish University Phrasebook

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Do I need a study visa?


Passport image courtesy of

One of the questions we’re frequently asked by prospective international students is ‘do I need a study visa?’ The answer is… it depends.

Let’s start with you does not need a visa.

If you are a European Union national, you do not require a visa to enter Ireland. Simple!

However, there are also a number of countries outside the European Union whose nationals do not require a visa to enter Ireland.

The full list of countries whose nationals do not require a visa is listed on the Irish government website but as of June 2011, this list includes Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. So, if you’re a national (i.e. passport holder) of any of these countries you don’t need a visa to enter Ireland.

So, who does need a visa?

If you are a national of a country not listed on the Irish government website, you will need to apply for a visa as soon as you receive your offer letter from the University.

Information on how to go about applying for a student visa is contained with the Pre-Arrival booklet and you can also refer to the Irish government immigration website for instructions or contact the Irish embassy in your home country.

Visa applications can take up to 6 weeks for the embassy to process, so its important to get the process started as soon as possible.

Arriving in Ireland

All non-EU/EEA nationals are subject to immigration control at the point of entry to the Irish State. Therefore, even if you are not required to have a visa, you should ensure that you have your NUI Galway offer letter available to show to immigration officials to prove that you are entering the state with the intention of pursuing a course of study in Ireland.

And after you arrive…

Also, regardless of whether you need a visa to enter Ireland or not, if you are a non EU/EEA national, you must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) within 30 days of arrival in Ireland. You’ll be advised at Orientation on how to register with the immigration service and you can also refer to the Pre-Arrival booklet for further information.

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