Beyond Books: Student Life in Ireland
Choosing what to study is tough. But sometimes it’s even tougher deciding where to go… The location of your college or university plays a big part in your student life – it’s the setting for some of your best memories. Whether you’re going to study in the next county or you’re coming from abroad, make sure you know the lowdown on all of Ireland’s top student towns and cities.
Like all capital cities, there’s a lot going on in Dublin. It is the seat of Government and it’s the financial capital of the nation, but there are also plenty surprises to uncover. While the cost of living in Dublin is high, it’s possible to live a little cheaper with the help of student accommodation.
Budding artists and creatives flock to the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), which boasts alumni including WB Yeats, Harry Clarke, Orla Kiely, Philip Treacy and Simone Rocha. Meanwhile, Trinity College Dublin – founded way back in 1592 – is one of the world’s top 100 universities. Dublin City University (DCU) and University College Dublin (UCD) both offer wide ranging courses on opposing sides of the city, and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has buildings all over the city centre.
There are few images that encapsulate student life in Galway better than the Spanish Arch crowded with students on a sunny day. It confirms what Galway students and alumni know – there are few better places to study than Galway City.
Culture and creativity are everywhere in the small city – arts, music and film festivals are always annual highlights. And in 2020, it’s becoming a European Capital of Culture. This means the artistic community are gearing up for big things and inhabitants can expect even more excitement on the cultural scene.
It might be hard to fit studying around all the city’s events, but both National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) have curricula jam-packed with interesting courses. NUI Galway is notorious for its arts courses and also boasts solid science options, while GMIT’s Galway campus leans towards the practical.
One of the country’s foodie hotspots, sometimes it seems like life in Cork revolves around meals. Luckily for hungry students, there are plenty of good value gourmet options throughout the city, as well as entertainment and cultural activities to suit every taste.
The bustling city has a true cosmopolitan vibe and students are spoilt for choice when it comes to colleges in the nation’s second biggest city. University College Cork (UCC) has a beautiful campus and a vibrant student life – there are over 160 societies and sports clubs and you can listen to live music as you eat your lunch every day at the amphitheatre.
Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) buildings are all over the city, making students a part of the city’s fabric. Business, engineering, sciences and more are all offered at CIT, but the institute is most famous for its music and arts programmes.
With the Munster team’s state-of-the-art training centre on the University of Limerick (UL) campus, sports and student life inseparable in this city. When there’s a big game on, the city vibrates with excitement – and it’s a little tougher to get a seat in the big rugby pubs.
Limerick is one of the most affordable cities in Ireland, making living on a budget easier. From low rent to student-friendly entertainment, the city is geared to make student life a little simpler.
Even though there’s a host of academic centres to choose from – including Mary Immaculate College and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) – University of Limerick dwarfs the city with a 11,600-strong student body.
As well as hosting the Munster rugby team, UL is big arts cheerleader. It’s home to the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland and much more.
The only true university town in Ireland, Maynooth has a population of just under 16,000 and the majority are students or staff. That gives it a small-town feel and makes it a little easier to make friends if you don’t know anyone yet.
Even though it’s just 40 minutes from Dublin’s city centre, there’s no need to leave Maynooth to have a good time with lots of student-focused cafes and bars dotting the town. A highlight is Maynooth University’s student union venue and bar, which regularly hosts big musical acts, from Coolio to Calvin Harris.
Two major educational institutions make up the heart of the town – the largest seminary in Ireland, St Patrick’s College, and Maynooth University, ranked #49 in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings in 2017. The university also boasts an internationally-recognised reputation as a leading research-focused institution.
Whether you’re from the European Union or further afield, you’re bound to have a million more questions about what’s it’s like to study in Ireland and the practical things you need to do to prepare for your trip. Education Ireland has lots of information – from Visa requirements to a full list of third level institutions – to get you ready for student life in Ireland.