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Low-Cost Universities in Ireland for International Students

Ireland is rapidly becoming a top choice for international students looking for an affordable, high-quality education from top universities. Known for its picturesque landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and friendly people, Ireland offers international students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Irish culture while pursuing their studies.

With over seven world-class universities, Ireland has one of the best education systems in Europe. Irish universities provide internationally accredited courses taught completely in English by some of the top professors and researchers in the world. An Irish degree is a valuable credential recognized by top companies and institutions globally.

Unlike the UK, Australia, USA or Canada studying in Ireland as an international student is surprisingly affordable. For EU students the fees are comparable to what local Irish students pay, while for non-EU students the average fees tend to be significantly lower than fees in those countries.

Read Also: Best Ireland Scholarships in 2024 Without Requiring IELTS

In this article, we will explore the best low-cost universities in Ireland that international students can attend for an affordable education. We’ve compiled university tuition fees and living costs to determine the most affordable options for international students.

Factors that Determine the Cost of Studying in Ireland

The cost of studying in Ireland depends on your nationality and the type of university and degree program you choose. The primary factors that determine how much international students pay are:

Tuition Fees

Irish universities classify students into two categories for fee purposes:

  • EU/EEA nationals – Citizens of EU member states pay “EU fees” – the same tuition that Irish students pay (about €3,000-15,000 per year)
  • Non-EU nationals – These students pay higher “non-EU fees”, which differ by university and program (average of €10,000-€25,000 per year)

So, EU students enjoy heavily discounted fees compared to those from non-EU countries.

University Ranking

In Ireland, university tuition fees vary hugely based on the institution’s ranking and reputation. Higher ranked universities tend to charge higher fees across both EU and non-EU categories. However, for non-EU students even “high” fees are lower than international fees in the UK, USA or Australia.

Degree Program/Subjects

Certain degree programs like Medicine, Engineering and Science usually have higher tuition fees than Arts, Humanities or Business degrees for non-EU students. So the subject you study impacts your costs.

Low-cost universities in Ireland for International Students

Here is an overview of the most affordable universities in Ireland for international students based on average annual fees and living costs:

Universities with Lowest Fees for Non-EU Students

UniversityLocationAvg. Tuition (Non-EU)Avg. Living CostsTotal Annual Cost
Technological University DublinDublin€12,000€12,000€24,000
University College CorkCork€15,000€12,000€27,000
Maynooth UniversityMaynooth€13,000€12,500€25,500
Dublin City UniversityDublin€14,500€12,000€26,500
University of LimerickLimerick€14,750€11,000€25,750

Universities with Lowest Fees For EU Students

UniversityLocationAvg. Tuition (Non-EU)Avg. Living CostsTotal Annual Cost
Institute of Technology SligoSligo€3,000€9,500€12,500
Institute of Technology CarlowCarlow€3,000€9,500€12,500
Technological University DublinDublin€3,654€12,000€15,654

Below we explore these affordable Irish universities offering the lowest costs for international students in more detail:

Cheapest Universities for Non-EU Students

1. Technological University Dublin

With three campuses across Dublin, Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) is one of Ireland’s largest universities providing technical, vocationally-focused education.

For a capital city TU Dublin offers very affordable tuition fees for international students – about €12,000 per year across most programs. Living costs for off-campus accommodation and other expenses average around €12,000 annually.

In total budget around €24,000 a year to study at TU Dublin. That’s as cheap as many regional universities but based in the heart of Dublin!

The university continues to focus on technology, science, engineering, arts & humanities, business and apprenticeship-based learning. With over 28,000 full and part-time students TU Dublin plays an important role educating job-ready graduates.

The three campuses allow students to pick the location they prefer in Dublin – the vibrant City Centre campus, leafy northside campus in Grangegorman or the modern Tallaght campus in south Dublin.

With Ireland’s booming economy TU Dublin graduates are highly employable with 97% gaining employment or continuing to further study within 9 months of completing their degree.

Key Facts:
  • Avg Non-EU Fees: €12,000 per year
  • Avg Living Costs: €12,000 per year
  • Location: 3 Campuses in Dublin City

Pros

  • One of the most affordable options for studying in the capital city Dublin as a non-EU international student
  • Gain high quality technical education focusing on skills for modern careers in business, tech and engineering
  • Very high graduate employment rates in Ireland’s booming economy

Cons

  • Not as highly globally ranked as some other Irish universities
  • Campus locations can vary in desirability for students

2. University College Cork

Located in Cork city on Ireland’s scenic south coast, University College Cork (UCC) offers an affordable world-class education starting at just €15,000 a year for non-EU students.

Known as Ireland’s most eco-friendly university, the 130+ hectare campus provides state-of-the-art learning facilities in a lush green setting with the River Lee flowing alongside student accommodation buildings.

Over 120 undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs are on offer across Business & Law, Medicine, Engineering, Science, Arts and Human Sciences. UCC pioneered the world’s first offerings such as Law with Irish, Podiatric Medicine and Wildlife Biology.

Recent investments have established UCC as a global research leader including the €86 million Tyndall National Institute specializing in ICT hardware research.

Not only enjoying very affordable tuition fees for an Irish university, UCC was also ranked in the top 3% of universities worldwide. This exceptional education quality combined with Cork’s low cost of living (around €1,000 per month) makes UCC particularly attractive for international students.

Over 17,000 students from 100+ countries study at UCC, with international students making up 12% of the population. UCC provides dedicated international student support via their International Education Office.

Key Facts:
  • Avg Non-EU Fees: €15,000 per year
  • Avg Living Costs: €12,000 per year
  • Location: Cork City (South Coast)

Pros

  • Globally ranked university providing world-class education for an affordable price
  • Modern campus and facilities with leading sustainability credentials
  • Located in the picturesque historic city of Cork with lower living costs

Cons

  • Limited specialty programs compared to larger universities
  • Location outside of Dublin may be less attractive to some students

3. Maynooth University

Located in the vibrant town of Maynooth just outside Dublin, Maynooth University lives up to its motto as “Ireland’s University of Innovation” by focusing on technology, entrepreneurship and educating world-ready graduates.

Maynooth provides excellent education quality at an affordable price – less than €13,000 a year tuition fees for non-EU students plus around €12,500 living expenses.

The university specializes in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and particularly innovative Space Science, Computer Science, Engineering and Business degrees molded for the 21st century job market.

Maynooth’s IT giants Intel and Google helped develop cutting-edge facilities like the high-performance supercomputer and incubator space at its Innovation Hub. Over 120 companies partner with the university for research and recruitment.

Ireland’s fastest growing university has seen enrolments triple since 2000 to 13,000, expanding its campus and on-site student accommodation. A quarter of the student body are international students from over 90 countries.

Not only enjoying affordable fees, Maynooth University ranks top 2% of universities globally for research quality including making vital contributions in areas like nanotechnology, immunology and data analytics.

Key Facts:
  • Avg Living Costs: €12,500 per year
  • Location: Maynooth, County Kildare (25km from Dublin)

Pros

  • Globally ranked as Ireland’s most innovative university
  • Specializes in highly employable degrees including Space Science, Computer Science and Business
  • Campus located just outside vibrant Dublin with lower living costs

Cons

  • Less programs and facilities than larger universities
  • Small town location lacks amenities for some students

4. University of Limerick

Founded just 50 years ago, the University of Limerick (UL) has rapidly grown into one of Ireland’s top universities combining state-of-the-art facilities with the country’s most affordable student living costs.

Located along the picturesque River Shannon, UL’s modern 130 hectare campus provides leading education across Business, Engineering, Science & Health Science at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Particular strengths are its pioneering Cooperative Education program partnering with over 1,500 employers to provide paid industry placements for students as part of their degree. 95% of UL grads are employed or in further study within 6 months.

UL offers the latest facilities including Ireland’s largest fitness center, 50-meter swimming pool and the country’s leading medical school simulation equipment costing €2.5 million.

While enjoying sporting facilities and student experience matching top global universities, UL offers this world-class education at affordable tuition fees for international students of around €14,750 annually.

Off-campus student accommodation is plentiful in Limerick city with cheaper costs than Dublin – averaging under €11,000 living expenses per year. In total students need approx €25,750 per annum.

Over 190 degree programs are on offer to the diverse 17,000 student population with 120 nationalities represented. Dedicated international student support helps students settle in.

Key Facts:
  • Avg Non-EU Fees: €14,750 per year
  • Avg Living Costs: €11,000 per year
  • Location: Limerick City

Pros

  • World-class modern campus with exceptional sports facilities
  • Industry integrated education with exceptional graduate employment rates
  • Among the most affordable living costs while studying in Ireland

Cons

  • Young university lacking the prestige and reputation of Ireland’s older universities
  • Rural location of Limerick doesn’t appeal to all students

Cheapest Universities in Ireland for EU Students

For European Union (EU) students who enjoy heavily discounted Irish university fees, these are among the most affordable options:

Low-cost universities in Ireland
Source: iStock Photo

1. Institute of Technology Sligo

Located in idyllic coastal town of Sligo in northwest Ireland, the Institute of Technology Sligo (ITS) offers EU students a world-class education at incredible value.

With average annual fees of just €3,000 and living costs around €9,500, ITS provides affordable higher education tailored towards job-ready graduates across Business, Engineering, Science & IT programs.

Its picturesque 109 acre campus is centered around a stunning restored Model Farm built in the 1800s, upgraded with engineering and design workshops featuring the latest equipment used in industry.

Students enjoy exceptional computer labs, performing arts center,research facilities plus access to Lough Gill for water sports. With Ireland’s lowest Erasmus student fees ITS makes studying abroad very affordable.

Over 140 programs are taught across Level 6, 7 and 8 from higher certificates right through to postgrad masters and PhD level. ITS also leads Ireland in Springboard+ courses allowing unemployed people upskill.

A big focus is community outreach, such as ITS recently providing robotics training for local schoolchildren to build awareness around careers in Science & Engineering.

With 80% of graduates entering employment straight out of college, ITS has seen enrollment boom in recent decades as its reputation grows nationally and internationally.

Key Facts:
  • Avg EU Fees: €3,000 per year
  • Avg Living Costs: €9,500 per year
  • Location: Sligo Town

Pros

  • Among the most affordable options for third-level education anywhere in Europe
  • Stunning rural campus with exceptional modern facilities
  • Specialist degrees preparing graduates for modern technical careers

Cons

  • Far smaller regional college lacking resources of major universities
  • Very remote rural location away from major urban hubs

2. Institute of Technology Carlow

The Institute of Technology Carlow provides another affordable college option for EU students to gain high quality technological and engineering skills.

With annual fees averaging just €3,000 per year, plus €9,500 living costs, it offers incredible value and helps address skills shortages in fast-growing knowledge economy industries.

Programs focus on nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation across areas like Computing, Engineering, Built Environment, Business, Science, Health & Sport Science.

The picturesque 100 acre campus along the River Barrow provides state-of-the-art facilities from research labs to performing arts theatres plus access to stunning parkland walks and historic Carlow Castle nearby.

A big emphasis is work-focused education, with grads enjoying 82% employment rates. ITC partners with over 600 employers nationwide to align its teaching to job market needs through internships and applied research projects.

The college attracts a very diverse study body across its 150 programs ranging from certificates through to PhD level, making it Ireland’s fastest growing IT.

Key Facts:
  • Avg EU Fees: €3,000 per year
  • Avg Living Costs: €9,500 per year
  • Location: Carlow Town

Pros

  • Exceptionally low tuition fees on par with public secondary schools
  • Strategic focus on skills for technology and knowledge economy jobs
  • Beautiful rural setting in Ireland’s Ancient East

Cons

  • Small regional college lacks resources and profile of national universities
  • Rural location away from major hubs

3. Technological University Dublin

Ireland’s largest university, Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) also provides great value-for-money for EU students with average fees of €3,654 per year across its dozens of primarily technical and engineering degrees.

For just €15,654 annually including living costs EU students can gain world-class technological education at Ireland’s biggest university right at the heart of the capital city Dublin with all its opportunities.

Check TU Dublin’s entry earlier in this article for full details on the excellent education and experience it provides.

The key differences versus non-EU international students are the much lower tuition fees averaging less than €4,000 per year and access to EU government supports for accommodation, living and travel expenses.

Key Facts:
  • Avg EU Fees: €3,654 per year
  • Avg Living Costs: €12,000 per year
  • Location: 3 Campuses in Dublin City

Pros

  • Get world-class technical education in Ireland’s top university very affordably
  • Located right in the center of lively, cosmopolitan Dublin city
  • Massive university with extensive facilities, student supports and opportunities

Cons

  • Technical focus lacks depth of classic disciplines like Medicine or Law
  • Big campus can feel impersonal for some students

Cost of Living For Students in Ireland

While tuition fees make up a significant portion of international student costs in Ireland, living expenses are also an important budget consideration.

International students should plan for about €12,000 on average each year for basic costs of living in Ireland outside of tuution. However, this varies greatly depending on location.

Here is a breakdown of typical student living costs in Ireland:

ExpenseCost
Accommodation (shared house/apartment)€4,000 – €6,500
Food/Groceries€2,500 – €4,000
Health insurance€120 (students from EU) to €700 (non-EU students)
Books and class materials€800
Clothing, entertainment, travel etc€2,000 – €3,000
Total Average Per Year€9,500 – €12,000

As shown regional areas like Sligo offer far more affordable student accommodation than capital city Dublin. Groceries, e ntertainment and other basics remain comparable countrywide.

Read Also: Top 15 Asian Universities for International Students

Carefully selecting an affordable location for your university study can have a major impact on keeping student budgets under control in Ireland.

Study in Ireland for an Affordable High Quality Education

From world-class universities to smaller regional institutes of technology, Ireland offers high quality education options to fit a wide range of international student budgets.

With excellent education outcomes, global recognition and affordable fees especially for EU students, studying at an Irish university provides tremendous value.

Hopefully this breakdown of costs for Ireland’s top low-cost university options assists international students find the right match based on their study abroad budget.

With growing demand globally, applying early and knowing key costs for fees, accommodation and living expenses is essential before making Ireland your study destination abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is education free in Ireland for international students?

No tuition in Ireland is free for international students at public universities, However, Ireland offers high-quality education at some of the most affordable rates globally, particularly for non-EU international students.

At Irish public universities EU students pay much lower “EU Fees” on par domestically, while non-EU students pay “non-EU fees”. These remain far more affordable than fees in popular study abroad destinations like the UK, USA and Australia.

So Ireland makes high quality university education more accessible thanks to well-regulated and reasonable international student fee policies.

2. What is the cheapest university in Ireland?

The cheapest universities in Ireland for total costs including living expenses are the Institutes of Technology in more regional areas like Sligo and Carlow. Top performers include:

  • Institute of Technology Sligo – From €12,500 per year (EU students)
  • Institute of Technology Carlow – From €12,500 per year (EU students)
  • Technological University Dublin – From €24,000 per year (Non-EU students)

Among traditional universities Cork and Maynooth also offer affordable options in Ireland at total costs around €25,000-€27,000 for non-EU students.

3. Can international students work in Ireland while studying?

Yes, international students on a valid student visa can work legally while studying, up to 20 hours during school terms and up to 40 hours per week during holidays. This helps support your costs while studying in Ireland.

After graduating, non-EU students can stay and work full-time in Ireland under the Third Level Graduate Scheme for up to 24 months. This helps international students obtain valuable work experience before returning home.

4. Can international students work part-time in Ireland?

Yes, non-EU students can work up to 20 hours per week during term time and up to 40 hours during holidays. There are good opportunities across retail, hospitality and office admin roles.

5. What is the cost of living in Ireland for students?

Average student living costs in Ireland range between €9,000-€14,000 per year. Shared houses off-campus average €400-600 per month. Groceries, entertainment, utilities and other expenses cost approx €1,000 monthly.

Cities like Dublin and Cork are more expensive at over €12,000 per year than most rural towns at under €10,000 annually.

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