Country Idealist Profiles

Ireland – Levels of Education of Population

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Basics, Ireland - Education System by hynesbrid on August 5, 2008


Persons, Males and Females Aged 15 Years and Over Classified by Highest Level of Education Completed, 2006.

  Males Females Persons
Total aged 15 years and over
Total whose full-time education has ceased
Highest level of education completed Primary (incl. no formal education)
Lower secondary
Upper secondary
Third Level Non-degree
Degree or higher
Not stated
Total whose full-time education not ceased
Economic status Total at school, university, etc.

Those aged 15 years and older who are currently at School / University:
Males        164,638
Females     184,958
Total         349,596

% of persons 15 years and older who have left education with a third level qualification:
In 2005, The Combat Poverty Agency published a report of the spatial distribution of Poverty called `Mapping Poverty, Local Regional and County Patterns´.  This report highlights a breakdpwn of the percentage of those 15 years and older who have left school with a third level qualification.    While the percentage varies across the country the mean average works out at 23.77% of the population having a third level qualification.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures for 2006 show a slight increase in this % with a total of 829,102 of the population aged 15 years and over having completed Third Level college.  This accounts for 24.56% of the 15+ population.


Further Eduction in Ireland

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Education System by hynesbrid on July 21, 2008

The term ” Further Education” embraces education and training which occurs after second-level schooling but which is not part of the third level system.

Post Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs)  are run by a wide range of both public and private colleges and institutions and lead to awards validated by the Irish government’s awards agency – Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), as well as awards validated by a range of Irish, UK and other international awarding bodies. PLC courses take place in schools, colleges and community education centres around the country. The courses are full-time and last for one or two years. Post Leaving Certificate courses adopt an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience. They are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, as such, are closely linked to industry and its needs. The qualification you receive at the end of your training  will depend on the type of course you have chosen. Many of the one year PLC courses offer FETAC accreditation at level II, while other more advanced courses may offer FETAC level III, which can lead to further studies at third level.

In addition, a number of Irish semi-state agencies are involved in providing industry specific training. The two main such agencies are : FÁS and Failte Ireland.  FAS – the Training and Employment Authority – runs a wide range of training schemes and is responsible for apprenticeship training in Ireland. Fáilte Ireland – the national toursim agency – provides courses in tourism and catering.

Third Level (Tertiary) Education in Ireland

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Education System by hynesbrid on July 21, 2008

The higher education system in Ireland is broad in scope and encompasses the university sector, the technological sector, the colleges of education and private, independent colleges. The institutions which fall within the first three groupings are autonomous and self governing, but substantially state funded.

The number participating in higher education in Ireland has increased significantly in recent decades with over 55 percent of students who complete second level now going on to higher education – one of the highest participation rates in the world. Entry to third level education for Irish students is competitive and based upon performance in the final secondary school examination, the Leaving Certificate.  Entry requirements for oversea students are determined individually by each institution and are generally based on national examination performance and English language aptitude.

The academic year typically runs from September to June and is divided into either two or three semesters with holidays in December (Christmas) and April (Easter).

Most universities run a semesterised system and modularisation has been introduced in the majority of colleges to allow greater flexibility for students. Teaching at undergraduate level generally involves a programme of lectures supplemented by tutorials, practical demonstrations and laboratory work (where relevant).

Universities Website
University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4
University College Cork, Cork
National University of Ireland, Galway
National University of Ireland, Maynooth
University of Limerick, Limerick
Trinity College, Dublin
Dublin City University


National University of Ireland Recognised Colleges Website
Institute of Public Administration
National College of Art and Design
Royal College of Surgeons Ireland
Shannon College of Hotel Management


Institutes of Technology Website
Dublin Institute of Technology
Athlone Institute of Technology
Cork Institute of Technology
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology
Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown
Institute of Technology, Carlow
Institute of Technology, Sligo
Institute of Technology, Tallaght
Institute of Technology, Tralee
Letterkenny Institute of Technology
Limerick Institute of Technology
Waterford Institute of Technology


Colleges of Education Website
The Church of Ireland College of Education
Froebel College of Education
Marino Institute of Education
St. Angela’s College
St. Catherine’s College of Education for Home Economics
St. Patrick’s College of Education
Mary Immaculate College
Mater Dei Institute


Other State-Aided Institutions Website
National College of Ireland
All Hallows College
Garda College
Military College
Tipperary Institute
Pontifical University of Maynooth
St Patrick’s, Carlow College
Royal Irish Academy of Music


Other Institutions Website
Honorable Society of Kings Inn
Law Society of Ireland

Second Level Education in Ireland

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Education System by hynesbrid on July 21, 2008

The secondary-level education sector in Ireland comprises secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools.

  • Secondary schools are privately owned and managed. The majority are conducted by religious communities and the remainder by Boards of Governors or by individuals.  Over 95 per cent of the cost of teachers’ salaries are met by the State. In addition, allowances and capitation grants are paid to 91 per cent of secondary schools, which participate in the free education scheme.Traditionally, these schools provided an academic type of education but in recent years have tended towards the provision also of technical and practical subjects.  Over thirty Irish secondary schools provide boarding facilities and many of these have a strong tradition of enrolling students from abroad.
  • Vocational schools and community colleges  are administered by vocational education committees which are statutory bodies set up under the Vocational Education Act, 1930, as amended. Vocational schools are funded up to 93 per cent of the total cost of provision. The balance is provided by receipts generated by the committees. Initially, the main thrust of these schools was directed towards the development of manual skills and preparation of young people for trades. Nowadays, however, the full range of second-level courses is available. Vocational schools are also the main providers of adult education and community education courses.
  • Comprehensive schools combine academic and vocational subjects in a wide curriculum. They are managed by a board of management representative of the diocesan religious authority, the Vocational Education Committee of the area and the Minister for Education and Science. The schools are financed entirely by the Department of Education and Science.
  • Community schools are managed by Boards of Management representative of local interests. These schools offer a broad curriculum embracing both practical and academic subjects. They also provide facilities for adult education and community development projects. These schools are entirely funded by the State through the Department of Education and Science.
    All of these schools provide the Certificate courses prescribed by the Department of Education and Science, enter their students for the same national examinations and are subject to inspection by the Department.

Second level education in Ireland generally starts at the age of twelve and consists of a three year Junior cycle followed by a two or three year senior cycle. The Junior Certificate Examination is taken at the end of junior cycle. The senior cycle has been significantly restructured in recent years and now offers a “Transition Year” which provides an opportunity for students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, life skills and work experience at a remove from the examination focus.

Students must take a minimum of five subjects including the three core subjects of English, Irish and Mathematics. Students can then choose their other subjects from a broad range including arts, languages, science and other applied subjects (e.g. mechanical drawing, woodwork etc.). Students entering the Irish education system after 11 years of age are not obliged to take Irish language examinations.

At the end of the senior cycle the Leaving Certificate Examination is taken. Students normally sit for this examination at seventeen or eighteen years of age.

Students may choose one of three Leaving Certificate Programmes:

  1. The Leaving Certificate Programme – This is the most widely taken programme in which students must take at least five subjects, including Irish (with the exception of those entering the system after 11 years of age). Those intending to pursue higher education at a third-level institutenormally takes this examination and access to third-level courses depends on results obtained.
  2. The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) first introduced in 1989 is similar to the established programme detailed above, however there is an added vocational content and a concentration on technical subjects. Pupils taking the LCVP take five Leaving Certificate subjects (including two vocational subjects); a modern European Language and three link modules on Enterprise Education, Preparation for Work and Work Experience.
  3. The Leaving Certificate Applied – The primary objective of this person-centred programme is to prepare participants for adult and working life.While certification in the LCA does not qualify for direct entry to third-level courses, students who successfully complete the programme are able to proceed to many Post Leaving Certificate courses. The framework of the LCA consists of a number of modules grouped under three general headings: General Education; Vocational Education and Vocational Preparation. 

The State Examinations Commission oversees the state examinations at secondary level in Ireland. The State Examinations Commission is responsible for issuing the results of all state examinations. It also decides the procedures which allow for the review and appeal of examinations at the request of candidates. You have the right to appeal results of a state examination to the State Examinations Commission. The Commission hold records of all State examination results and you can apply to it for a certified copy of your results.

Primary Level Education in Ireland

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Education System by hynesbrid on July 21, 2008

Primary schools operate an eight-year programme, consisting of two kindergarten years (Junior and Senior Infants), followed by classes 1- 6.  Although children are not obliged to attend school until the age of six, 65% of four year olds and most five year olds are enrolled in the infant classes in primary schools in Ireland. The primary education system emphasises a child-centred approach and is founded on the belief that high quality education enables children to realise their potential as individuals and to live their lives to the fullest capacity appropriate to their particular stages of development. The primary curriculum (recently completely revised) provides for an extensive learning experience and promotes a rich variety of approaches to teaching and learning. The curriculum is divided into the following key areas:

  • Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Social, environmental and scientific education
  • Arts education (including visual arts, music and drama)
  • Physical education
  • Social, personal and health education.

There are no formal examinations at the end of the primary school cycle.

The school year runs from September until the end of June with holidays at Easter and Christmas.

The Irish primary education sector consists of state-funded primary schools, special schools (schools for children with special needs including residential care units, schools for children with disabilities, young offenders, children at risk, children with specific learning disabilities and emotionally disturbed children) and private primary schools.  State funded schools include religious schools, non-denominational schools, multi-denominational schools and Gaelscoileanna (schools which teach through the medium of Irish.)

The Irish Education System – An Introduction

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Education System by hynesbrid on July 16, 2008

Ireland has a long and honourable tradition in education. As a result of a sustained investment in this area Ireland now has one of the highest educational participation rates in the world – 81% of Irish students complete second-level and approx 60% go on to higher education. This dynamic, educated population has made its mark at home and abroad with international companies looking to Ireland again and again when hiring graduates for top class positions. 

Responsibility for education lies within the Department of Education and Science.  It administers all aspects of education policy including curricula, syllabi and national examinations. Attendance at full time education is compulsory in Ireland from six to fifteen years of age and is free in the majority of schools, and at undergraduate third-level. Education is considered a fundamental right under the Irish constitution – Bunreacht na hEireann.

The Irish Education System was traditionally divided into three basis levels: Primary (8 years), Secondary (5 or 6 years) and Higher Education which offers a wide range of opportunities from post-secondary courses, to vocational and technical training, to full degree and the highest post-graduate levels. In recent years the focus has expanded to include pre-school education and adult and further education as the concept of lifelong learning becomes reflected in the education opportunities available within the Irish education system.


overview of education in Ireland