1.Plan ahead – get the basics right
No matter where you are, moving abroad to study can become daunting if you’re not prepared well in advance. For Indian students, it is better to plan for your Ireland study at least a year in advance. This includes picking the right program, applying to colleges of your choice, getting your documents in order, securing your visa, providing necessary proofs of affordability, looking for research or industry career opportunities etc. Early planning will make your entire stay in Ireland enjoyable.
You can also speak to an expert who will help you plan this to your best advantage.
2.Where and what to study
Despite being an island nation, Ireland has quite a few top global universities and over 5000study programs to choose from!
While Dublin, the ‘student hub’, remains the most popular destination, it is not your only option. There are other high-ranking universities in cities like Cork, Limerick, and Galway. You can pursue either your Bachelor’s Degree of three years, a Master’s Degree of one to two years or a Doctorate/PhD course. Many institutions also offer shorter certificate and diploma courses with global recognition and accreditation.
3. Applying to University
Once you’ve narrowed down your destination city/target university and have an idea about which course to pursue, you must thoroughly research different programs across universities for detailed information about subjects, credits, cut-offs, deadlines for applications, tuition fees, etc. You can search online or contact the admissions office at the colleges.
Post this, you take your IELTS, TOEFL or GMAT exams for English language proficiency and get your Statement of Purpose, Essays, Resume and Letters of Recommendation in order. Other documents like academic transcripts, certificates for extra-curricular activities, passport, and proof of funds will also be needed.
Next, you need to fill in your application form directly with the university, and submit along with your documents. Generally, student intakes are during September and February months. Some colleges also require you to appear for an interview after shortlisting your application.
If successful, you get your acceptance letter from the college and can begin applying for a student visa.
Tip: Experts advise that student applications which are real and demonstrate enthusiasm to learn the subject manage to stand out from the crowd!
4.Fees and expenses
Compared to most other destinations abroad, the cost of studying in Ireland is lower; and, with the benefit of job opportunities and post-study work options, Ireland is a true ‘value for money’ proposition for Indians.
In general course fees are between €10,000 and €20,000 per year. Irish universities offer several merit-based scholarships for Indian students. You can fill an online application mentioning why you should be nominated for scholarship and what benefits you shall bring from it to the university.
Other expenses include accommodation, travel, personal expenses, and mandatory medical insurance cost. These range from €7,000 to €12,000 per year, on average.
You can opt for an easy financing option from any Indian bank, by submitting offer letter and other documents. Banks will typically fund upto 80% of your fees with the repayment beginning after your course completion.
5.Getting your visa
The visa process for studying abroad in Ireland is online - you fill-up the application, typically for a long-stay single-entry student visa, along with required proof of funds and other documents. You need at least €7,000 in your bank account to show enough money to cover costs for your stay for one year. Other documents include admission letter, proof for payment of first tuition fee instalment, passport, employment details, and medical insurance proof.
You can secure yourself a work permit which allows you to work part-time, i.e. 20-hours per week during the academic year, and full-time, i.e. 40-hours per week during holidays. Ireland also offers the benefit of a post-study visa where you can stay in the country and look for job opportunities for upto two years.
6. Living and accommodation
Most universities provide living arrangements for international students and many opt for on-campus housing in their university. This way, you get to experience different cultures and interact with other students. However, given huge demand, these are often difficult to find and you need to apply early.
Post-graduate students prefer off-campus, rented accommodation. University accommodation offices can help you find the most affordable option. You can also ‘homestay’ as a paying guest with a local Irish family.
7. Checklist: Before you leave India
By now you’re looking forward to your life in Ireland for the next year or two, and are ready to board your flight. Still, lady luck favours the prepared and it is wise to make sure you have a complete checklist prior to your departure:
8.Once you arrive
One of the first things you should do is secure yourself a local phone and internet connection and call your family back home once you land.
Like many Indian students, you may initially find it difficult to settle into an unfamiliar country with unknown people and feel alone or homesick. You needn’t worry – this is quite common. . Participating in your college groups and teams can help you make new friends quickly. Ireland has a large Indian diaspora - you can get involved with them in community activities. In a few weeks, you’ll be ready to live the Irish lifestyle with friends at the pub or simply travel to explore the countryside.
Tip: Most universities have an in-house counsellors whom you can talk to in the event of continued homesickness or any other mental health worries.
9.Post-study options for Indians
Ireland offers solid job and career prospects for international students. Study programs typically include an internship that develops your skillsets and is a great way to build industry contacts for job placements later. Most universities have advisors who assist and guide in your job search.
Once you secure employment, you get issued a work visa, valid for up to a maximum of two years. After that, it becomes renewable by your employer. If you wish to continue living in Ireland – and who can blame if you do? – you can apply for a Green Card.
10.The Final Step
Finally, in this 10-Step Guide to Studying in Ireland – remember to enjoy your student experience and live in the moment!