Ireland is a divided island, with the Republic of Ireland fielding the largest number of colleges and universities, and Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom) offering fewer choices but some excellent academic options.
The universities in Northern Ireland are Queens University Belfast (QUB) and the University of Ulster. Both are comprehensive universities offering a wide range of subjects. See the United Kingdom Destination Guide for more information.
There are seven universities in the Republic of Ireland.
The University of Dublin (usually referred to as Trinity College Dublin  or simply “TCD”) is the oldest, founded in 1592 on the model of Oxford and Cambridge.
The National University of Ireland is based on a federal model and has four constituent universities: University College Dublin  (UCD, founded 1854), University College Cork  (UCC, founded 1845), National University of Ireland – Galway  (NUI Galway, founded 1845), and National University of Ireland – Maynooth  (NUI Maynooth, founded 1795).
In addition to the universities, there are several excellent colleges and business schools in Ireland. See the section of this site titled In Dublin or Not  for further information.
In the Republic of Ireland, a basic choice needs to be made between study in Dublin and study elsewhere. Dublin is a European capital city, and almost 1/3 of the population of Ireland lives there (1.7 million of the Republic’s 4.4 million people). The cost of living is quite high. There are several excellent universities and colleges in Dublin from which to choose, as well as study abroad centers operated by U.S. organizations. Throughout the country in the larger county capitols are excellent, comprehensive universities (see above).
Higher education has been critical to the creation of the “Celtic Tiger” and Ireland’s successful membership in the European Union. Forty percent of the population is under the age of 25, and over half of the students graduating from secondary school continue to university. Ireland is committed to becoming a “fully-fledged knowledge society,” and places an emphasis on life-long learning. It has some of the highest educational standards in Europe.
Ireland is a highly developed democracy with a modern economy. Some of its main economic activities include pharmaceuticals, software development, manufacturing, and international services.
The “Irish Diaspora,” a result of famine and economic hardship during the 19th century, has created a sizable population of Irish heritage students in the United States who are interested in studying abroad in Ireland. But Ireland appeals to students for many reasons. It is an English-speaking country known for its friendliness and hospitality, its beautiful natural scenery, its vibrant and lively communities, and its rich cultural heritage.