Ireland's education system is different from many other
countries by the voluntary transition (English
transition year) that can be carried out between the
last year of compulsory education and high school. In other
respects, the education system in Ireland is in principle
the equivalent of other European countries with compulsory
education (or primary school), upper secondary level and
higher education. The path to higher education can be
different, although the most common is that those who have
taken upper secondary education are applying for higher
education. For example, a student who has completed any
practical or vocational education may take other courses and
qualify to be admitted to higher education. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Ireland.
The 8-year compulsory school is compulsory from the year
the child turns six. Many children start school sooner. 40
percent of the country's 4-year-olds and almost all
5-year-olds are in the primary school. The compulsory
schooling also includes the 3-year lower secondary
education, which corresponds to Swedish high school.
Compulsory school and high school are free, but a few
private schools that do not receive state support require
fees from students.
The education does not have to take place in school but
can also be conducted as home education. English is the
language of instruction at all levels of the education
system and in most schools. Excluded are schools with Irish
as their language of education, despite the fact that Irish
(a Celtic language) is the country's official language and
is spoken by 260,000 Irish people. Where English is the
language of instruction, Irish is one of the main subjects.
In principle, all elementary schools and colleges are
private, that is, owned and run by private actors (generally
the Catholic Church). They are mostly financed by the state.
More than 90 percent of primary school students attend
schools run by the Catholic Church. About 6 percent attend
Anglican Church schools.
At the age of 12, the majority of pupils have completed
primary school. They can then choose between high school,
vocational education conducted at state schools and
community schools or comprehensive schools.
The latter are for young people who for some reason are
unable or unwilling to attend high school or to complete a
vocational education. The student can also choose to take a
transition year after the compulsory school.
There are different types of secondary schools (high
school and high school): general, vocational,
comprehensive (English comprehensive), schools
in which the language of instruction is Irish and private
schools where students have to pay school fees. A typical
secondary school includes three years of junior school,
one transition year and two years of upper secondary
education (three years if the transition year is not
After the compulsory education, most people choose to go
through the usual upper secondary education, which is
divided into three branches. Secondary education is two or
three years: two years if the student after the lower
secondary education has undergone a transition year. During
the first year of high school, all students read the same
courses and subjects, and during the last two years they
choose one of the three programs that exist: general upper
secondary education 2–3 years, vocational secondary
education and “school completion program” for students who
do not choose or are not considered ready. one of the other
two programs. Only the first two grant the right to study
further in higher education.
In 2017, there were approximately 800 colleges in the
country, of which around 80 are boarding schools where a
relatively large proportion of students are guest students
from other countries. 20 percent of all students in higher
education come from other countries, which is a
comparatively high percentage.
Higher education is provided at 7 universities, 14
technical institutes plus colleges mainly for teacher
education (7). A special authority processes applications
for higher education, but the final decision on whether to
apply or not is made by the institution concerned.
In higher education, there were about 200,000 full-time
students in 2017, which is a doubling of the number of
students in twenty years. 49 percent of the students are men
and 51 percent are women. Since 2013, a series of reforms
are being implemented in higher education. This applies
mainly to the productivity of the education, quality
assurance and financing. Ireland has switched between having
tuition fees and not having it, but the system of
tuition-free tuition is changing and differentiating.
Special authorities for measuring and checking this were
being established during 2016-17.
After high school, an Irish citizen can undergo further
education. In 2015, 300,000 were in adult education. During
the first half of the 1990s, Ireland experienced strong
economic growth, which meant that most who underwent further
education or retraining did so in the construction industry,
but with the downturn in the economy that followed, the
number of students in that industry dropped dramatically.