Ireland is a beautiful country surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Celtic Sea in the south and the Irish Sea in the east. It is part of the island of Ireland, which also comprises Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, however, comes under the United Kingdom and is thus part of a separate nation. The capital of Ireland is located in Dublin, which houses almost one-third of the country's 4.8 million population. Dublin is the country's largest city and is located in the eastern part of the country, facing the British land mass. The country shares its lone land border with Northern Ireland. Ireland has a unitary form of parliamentary democracy, with the Prime Minister as the head of the government. The President of Ireland mainly serves as the ceremonial head of state with very few limited powers. The parliament is a bicameral one, the lower house known as Dail and the upper house as Seanad. Prime Ministers in Ireland are referred to as Taoiseach.
The country has a long history. Since the 16th century, Ireland has been mainly under British rule. It was in the year 1922 after a war of independence that Ireland was created as Irish Free State after a treaty between the Irish and the English people, called the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Northern Ireland continued to be part of Britain. In 1937, under a new constitution, the state was named as Ireland. In the year 1949, it was officially declared a republic and thus the name Republic of Ireland. On the international front, it is a member of the United Nations and of the European Union. Though located in the western world, Ireland is not part of NATO, as it believes in military neutrality. It is, however, a member of the Partnership for Peace, which is a grouping of NATO member nations and non-NATO states from Europe and the former Soviet Union.
As was mentioned earlier, Ireland is a very prosperous nation and the people here have a very good standard of living. In terms of per capita GDP, Ireland figures among the top 25 wealthiest nations. The country follows liberal economic policies that have allowed its economy to flourish and prosper. Most of the economic progress by the country has been achieved after 1995. It did suffer a financial crisis in the year 2008, due to a global meltdown, but has recovered since then. As of 2015, it was one of the fastest growing economies in the whole of the European Union. Even the Human Development Index ranks Ireland very high in the league of countries like Germany. The Irish economy is heavily served by foreign multinational companies, mainly American. The MNCs are the drivers of the country's economy and provide employment to almost a quarter of the workforce in the entire private sector. Since Ireland is a member of the European Union, it has Euro as its currency. As far as exports from Ireland is concerned, the country is one of the largest exporters of pharmaceutical goods, medical equipment and software services. It also exports farm and dairy-based products. It is a significant producer of minerals as well. Significant earnings come from tourism too. Most of its earnings come from the European Union, the UK being its largest trading partner.
The country favours well on the social front too, as there is substantial freedom for the people to participate in politics and economic activities. One can practice any profession of one's liking. The tax regime is quite liberal, favouring business and trade. Freedom of press too ranks very high. In recent times, immigration to Ireland has grown significantly. As much as 12% of the population is non-Irish in origin and have come from places as distant as Africa, Asia and of course continental Europe. Indians also form part of the foreign Diaspora in Ireland. Even though Irish is the national language, English is the dominant language in Ireland. Most businesses and education are done in English only.
Compared to the Nordic countries or even continental Europe, Ireland is blessed with a mild climate. The warm Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean ensures that the climates are never extreme. The average temperature in winter is around 6-degree centigrade, whereas during the summer it is 15-20 degrees. The shores of Ireland are never covered with snow, even during the winters. Rains are in plentiful that add to the lush green cover of the countryside.
- Ireland is a magical land that is steeped deeply into history. Even in this modern age, it loves its warriors, castles, balladeers, elves and the leprechauns.
- The country is blessed with scenic beauty and amazing natural wonders like cliffs, lakes, sea beaches and a lush green countryside.
- Ireland is predominantly a Catholic country and has one of the highest rates of churchgoers in the western world.
- Ireland is among those very few countries, where abortion is still illegal. In rare circumstances, when the life of the mother is in danger is abortion permitted as a last resort.
- Being an island country it is free of snakes and many other common species found elsewhere.
- Bram Stoker, who wrote the world famous story of Count Dracula was from Dublin.
- Oscar Wilde, the famous poet and playwright were born in Dublin. Even George Bernard Shaw was an Irishman.
- Before the advent of modern farm machinery and fertilisers, the staple food in Ireland was simply potatoes and not food grains. The soil in Ireland was not suitable for grain production then.
- The country is the largest exporter of software and software services. Many of the European or the regional headquarters of multinational companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, IBM and Motorola are located in Ireland.
- There are more Irish people in the rest of the world than in Ireland and Northern Ireland combined. The United States alone has 34 million people with Irish ancestry.
- About half of Australia's population is believed to be of Irish ancestry.
- One an estimate places the number of Irish origin people outside Ireland to some 80 million, mostly in the two Americas, rest of Europe, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand.
- Some of the amazing places to see in Ireland are the Dublin Castle, The Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, Saint Patrick's Cathedral and The National Gallery of Ireland.
Admission Process in Ireland
Before applying for a course in one of the universities or colleges in Ireland, it is essential that you make a comprehensive research about all the options available to you in terms of courses, institutions, accommodation and funding. You need to begin the process well in time, say 8-12 months in advance. Once you have all the necessary information, you need to gather the documents and necessary paperwork.
To start with, you need to be passed from class XII or a graduate from a recognised university in India, before you apply for a study program in Ireland. You should also have adequate proficiency in the English language. You will have to appear for IELTS or TOEFL and have a valid test score. Depending on your area of interest and career aspirations, research on the universities and colleges in Ireland. Look for the qualification requirements for the particular course you have chosen. Check for the expenses involved in studying and staying in Ireland. Check whether the colleges allow you for part-time work or not. Check for accommodation and the climatic condition of the place you are intending to stay in Ireland for your studies. Check for your finances, whether you will be able to fund your studies as well as stay in Ireland. Look for suitable scholarships and student educational loans. Once you have satisfied yourself with all the requirements, apply directly to the international office of your chosen institute. The institute goes through your application and if found correct in all respects, they will get back to you and ask you to apply for the visa. It is only after getting a letter of acceptance from the concerned university that you can apply for the study visa. Details about the entire admission and visa application process are given in the Education in Ireland website
Student Visa Application Process
A study visa is required for Ireland in case you are planning to study in the country for more than three months. However, students from European Union countries do not need a visa to study in Ireland, whatever may be the course duration. Rest all others who come from non-EU states like India have to apply for a visa to come and study in this country. Due to the endeavour of the Ireland immigration authorities, the visa application process is a hassle-free experience for applicants. One needs to make use of the AVATS online facility to apply for a visa. The online form needs to be complete in all respect with all necessary documentation, passport photos and appropriate fees paid. It takes almost 8 weeks to process your visa application. You can check the status of your visa application through the website of Irish immigration service. Delays if any can be checked online.
Some of the salient points that you need to take care of while applying for the visa are given below.
- You need to study the details of the visa application very carefully. Any incomplete information or documentation on your part may lead to refusal of visa.
- The study visa need to be applied at least 3 months prior to your departure for Ireland.
- Any false or misleading information will also result into refusal and sometimes you may also be barred from applying again for a period of 5 years.
- While applying, ensure that your passport has at least one-year validity from the date of your arrival in Ireland.
- On completing the online process, take the print out of the summary form that explains where you need to submit the supporting documents. The summary form is to be submitted along with the documents.
- As per the instructions you will have to submit the documents at the visa office, consulate or embassy of Ireland.
- You may also have to provide biometric information as part of the visa application process.
- You will also have to pay the necessary fees for the application process and submission of documents.
As an international student, with your study visa, you will be able to work for 20 hours per week. During vacations, you will be permitted to work for 40 hours per week. After completion of studies and on receipt of your exam results, as a non-European Union student, you will be able to stay for another six months by applying for an extension of your study visa. You can then apply for jobs in the specific sectors where there is a demand for professionals, such as in information technology, software and healthcare services. For staying long term, you need to get an Ireland Green Card.
Ireland is a country deeply rooted in history, culture and traditions. Even with all the modernization, the country has seen over the years, people here still love to connect with their rich past. The westernized outlook that Irish men and women may sport now has not been able to take Ireland away from its values, customs and traditions. They take pride in their rich cultural heritage and long history that dates back to the prehistoric times some 10000 to 12000 years back. In recent times, Ireland has become renowned for its hospitality and friendliness. The Irish are very fun loving people and they are passionate about simple but good things in life like food, drinks, sports, hiking, fishing, holidaying, etc. The world famous Guinness beer, which has met with monumental success all across the world, originated here in Ireland. They fancy sports like football, rugby, cricket and many more. The prosperity of the country allows its people to have a high standard of living with all the modern comforts. The friendly nature of the Irish people makes it easy for an overseas student to settle here in Dublin or the other cities in Ireland in no time.
Cost of Living for Students
One of the good things about studying in Ireland is the numerous scholarships that are available for overseas students including Indians. These scholarships are available for a whole range of study programs. The scholarships are a great help in cutting down the expenses of studying in Ireland, which is otherwise on the higher side compared to India. The costs are, anyway, definitely less than what it is studying in the UK or the USA. The cost of study mainly depends on the course you opt for. On an average, one has to shell out almost 10,000 to 30,000 Euros for a year depending upon the study program you have opted for. Arts, sciences and engineering may cost you roughly 10,000 to 20,000 Euros. Business courses range around 30,000 Euros, whereas the medicine courses are the costliest ones, costing around 50,000 Euros.
Your stay in Ireland will cost you around 600 to 800 Euros per month. Food may cost you another 200 Euros a month. Your major expenses will be on accommodation, food, transportation, leisure, phone bills and books. Some of the one-time costs will be on health insurance, visa application, travel insurance, etc. Health insurance is mandatory, as non-European Union students are not covered with free medical care and all hospitalisations in Ireland are very costly. Depending upon your budget, there are various types of accommodation available in the cities and suburbs. There is on-campus accommodation provided by the universities, which are a bit on the higher side and are very few in numbers. One may also opt for rented accommodation where you will have to cater to everything on your own. Some may like to stay with host families in Ireland in their home itself. This allows you to live in the comforts of home, get good food and get to learn about the people of Ireland and their lifestyle from close quarters.
Before coming to Ireland, it is essential for you to ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover all your expenses for your stay in the country. During your visa application process, you will have to show evidence regarding this. Only when the visa authorities are satisfied with your financial means and background that you will be issued with the visa to study in Ireland. You will, however, get the opportunity to work for 20 hours a week during your study that may cover a small part of your living expenses.
Documents for University Admissions in Ireland
A host of documents are required while applying for a study program in a university of your choice in Ireland. They are listed as below.
- Marksheets and educational certificates of class X, XII and graduation, as applicable
- Your current passport
- A letter of acceptance from an Irish college or university, confirming your candidature for a full-time course in Ireland
- A valid letter, receipt or copy of an electronic transfer of funds as an evidence for payment of fees to the concerned college or university
- Evidence of language proficiency through test scores obtained in IELTS, with a score of at least 6.5
- Evidence of adequate funds through a detailed bank statement covering the last six-month period prior to visa application
- Details of scholarships won, if any
- A signed application, explaining your intent to study in Ireland and the reasons for applying a visa
- Passport photos, documents proving your identity and birth certificate, if below 18 years in age.
- Evidence of private health insurance coverage
- Evidences of any gap in education.
You need to submit the documents in original. Your original documents will be returned once your visa application is processed. All other documents or evidence in the form of statements or letters will be retained by the visa office. In case any of the above-mentioned documents submitted by you are in a language other than Irish or English, you will then have to submit a proper translation of the same, along with important details about the translator. It helps if you submit documents such as character certificates and reference letters from your school, college or past employers. The documents should be all on the school or organization's official letterhead.