Want to travel? Consider studying abroad

Enrolling in universities abroad is a realistic opportunity for Irish students to follow their dreams

Wroclaw is Poland’s fourth largest city. There are currently an estimated 124,000 students attending 26 public and private institutions in the city. Photograph: iStock

Wroclaw is Poland’s fourth largest city. There are currently an estimated 124,000 students attending 26 public and private institutions in the city. Photograph: iStock


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A university education at a UK college was something many young Irish students once considered a viable option. With the advent of fees for university in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the number of students opting to study in the UK has fallen. However, the UK admissions service, UCAS, reports that about 2,000 Irish students are expected to enrol in universities in the UK this year and there are options still available through Clearing, its registry of available vacant places at UK universities.

For those who would consider travelling further afield, a viable and increasingly popular option is to join the 2,500 Irish students currently studying on English-taught degree programmes in Europe.

“Applications for research university places closed in May, but there are still options available in universities of applied sciences,” says Guy Flouch, head of Eunicas.ie, the independent information and application support service for Irish students interested in studying in Europe.

Students who feel they have run out of options for studying their chosen subject in Ireland can opt for architecture or engineering in Denmark, game design, marketing or law in the Netherlands and medicine or veterinary medicine in Italy and Poland, to name a few.

“Courses in the universities of applied sciences offer very practical courses which aim to prepare you for a given career area and graduates are very employable,” says Flouch. “It is a system where students are well-supported too, with regular reviews on how they are doing and guidance in areas where they might be struggling.”

Increasingly, courses taught through English in Europe are in areas where there is insufficient supply to meet demand in Ireland, such as medicine and veterinary medicine.

“This year, 100 Irish students are expected to go to Poland to study medicine, dentistry, veterinary and other medical sciences,” says Adam Krawczyk, who heads the Medical Poland Admissions Office. “There are still places available for medicine and veterinary in Polish public universities. They do not look for a HPat qualification for medicine although they will look for higher level in some science subjects.”

More information about the options for would-be students or their parents can be found at medicalpoland.ie.

Keeping costs low

“Fees for studying medicine will range from €10,000 to €13,000 per annum and €8,000 for studying veterinary,” says Krawczyk. “However, living and accommodation costs are very low. Typically, for state-of-the-art international student accommodation you could expect to pay €200 per month.”

There are no tuition fees in countries such as Denmark, Germany and Sweden and fees in the Netherlands, where Eunicas helps place about 50 per cent of interested students, are €2,060 a year. The Dutch government provides interest-free loans for tuition fees and in Groningen, one of the most popular student cities for Irish students, rents will be around €400 a month.

Drop-out rates tend to be low for those opting to study in Europe and Flouch and Krawczyk, who are providing information to help students explore the options, wish that to continue.

“Most people who go this route have put some research into it and considered what it means,” says Flouch. He stresses the need for students to be realistic about the challenges, particularly in the first term away from home.

“It will not suit all students – some want to be close to family but others see it as an adventure. Living abroad is a good experience and a student environment can give you the opportunity to make friends with an international community, studying alongside people from the UK, Scandinavia, the US and Canada. Those connections can be very important for a medical career,” says Krawczyk.

Increasingly, those opting to study in European universities have been prompted to do so after a positive recommendation from a friend who has already taken this route. Both Eunicas and Medical Poland have contact with students who can tell those who are interested what to expect.

The quality of the qualifications should be considered too. Many of the universities rank highly in international listings and the qualifications gained from them will be highly regarded.

In conclusion, there are still options for students who recently received their Leaving Cert results to study in Europe and the UK this year or to research for starting study next year.

Guy Flouch sums it up. “You will be expected to work hard but there are a lot of opportunities for fun and adventure too.”

For more information:

Eunicas.ie – for options in different subject areas across Europe.

Medicalpoland.ie – for options to study medical, veterinary, dentistry and other medical sciences in Poland.

Ucas. com – for options on places still available to study in the UK.