The education system of Ireland is ranked among the world's best. Go through this write-up to learn all about the educational structure followed in Ireland.
Education System in Ireland
World-recognized education, high quality research, academic excellence in many disciplines, state-of-the-art facilities, and scenic beauties to enjoy, Ireland is just what you’ve always read and heard about. A rapidly transforming educational hub, Ireland boasts of fine-tuned communication, development of practical professional skills, invention of innovative ideas, and strong economic growth. With a couple esteemed universities and colleges offering a multitude of courses and program to choose from, Ireland is home to one of world’s best education systems. Such is the educational structure of Ireland that it has become a European base for more than 1000 companies due to the cream and quality of students gradating from Irish universities. Education in Ireland is mandatory for children from six to sixteen years or until three years of second-level education. Plus, education in Ireland is free of cost in most of the schools and at undergraduate third-level. Get to know more about the Irish education system in the following sections.
Attending school is not compulsory for children in Ireland until the age of six. Although preschool education has been recently introduced, it is not mandatory. Nevertheless, 65 percent of Irish children are in preschool by the age of four, while the rest are enrolled in preschools by age five. Preschool education provides a firm educational foundation and prepares the kids for an advanced study at the primary school.
Also known as first level schools or national schools, primary schools are generally funded by the state and comprise of religious schools, nondenominational schools, and Gaelscoileana. On completion of the preschool, children are enrolled in a primary school, at around four or five years of age, even though it is not mandatory for children up to six years to attend school. Schools start accepting pupils on or after their fourth birthday. Teaching methods are highly flexible and no formal examinations take place at the end of first level education. Primary education includes eight years of education, from four to twelve years of age.
After successfully completing primary education for eight years, students are promoted to secondary school which lasts for 5 to 6 years. This is divided into three stages, taken at a secondary school, vocational school, community college, comprehensive school, or community school. Junior cycle, transition year, and senior cycle constitute the three stages of secondary education. The junior cycle is the first stage, which imparts education to children from the age of 12 to 16 years, and hence, lasts from year 1 to 3. A Junior Certificate Examination is mandatory to qualify and complete the junior cycle.
The transitional year follows next, lasting for one year, wherein students undertake an informal course which emphasizes on interpersonal development and experiential learning, as opposed to academic learning. Secondary education ends with the second cycle called senior cycle, lasting from year 5 to 6, taken up by students from 16 to 18 years of age. At the end of the senior cycle, students take the Leaving Certificate examination with three program options, namely, Leaving Certificate Program, Leaving Certificate Vocational Program, and Leaving Certificate Applied.
By the age of 18, more than half of Irish students enter third-level schools or colleges. Ireland offers four different types of colleges, namely, universities, technical colleges, teacher training colleges, and privately-owned colleges. Third-level education, as it is known in Ireland, is categorized into degrees and diplomas offered at Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate levels, in a full range of disciplines. The different programs offered include one-year certificate (one-year full-time course), national certificate (two-year full-time course), national diploma (one year post national certificate), bachelor’s degree (3 or 4 year course), graduate diploma (generally one year), master’s degree (one or two year course, either by research or taught program), and doctorate degree (minimum of 3 years’ original research).
Universities in Ireland offer a variety of programs for bachelor’s degree, providing students to choose their preferred fields of study and pursue a career or take up higher studies in the same subject. Students are required to produce Leaving Certificate Examination results for undergoing the admission process. A bachelor’s degree is a three or four year program with degree options of ordinary or honors bachelor’s degree.
A broad range of study fields are available for pursuing a master’s degree from an Irish university. At the postgraduate level, students take up coursework, research work, or a combination of the two to complete their curriculum. A bachelor’s degree or graduate diploma is mandatory for taking up postgraduate studies. A master’s degree usually lasts for one to three years at the university.
A good academic track record at the master’s level, or equivalent, is essential for obtaining admission to a PhD program. The students are required to pursue their coursework and scholarship in partnership with the industry for best application oriented research. A doctoral program takes about 3 to 5 years of original research to get the PhD degree awarded, depending upon the discipline and project undertaken.
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