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Ireland Education Facts


The education system maintains high quality. There is compulsory schooling between the ages of six and 16, but most children start in preschool four or five years of age. Most of the schools are private and are often run by church communities. As for elementary school, nine out of ten schools are Catholic, but there are plans to reduce the influence of the Catholic Church in the school world. There are also a small number of Muslim and Jewish schools. In Ireland there are also some forty boarding schools.

The schools are largely financed by the state (which, among other things, pays 95 percent of all teacher salaries). Most schools do not charge any fees, but parents may pay for school books, school uniforms and more. Religious instruction is optional. On average, there are 24 students in each class. According to an OECD report in 2012, teacher salaries in Ireland were among the highest in the world in 2010, but entry salaries for new teachers are significantly lower today than they were then.

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Almost all children leave primary school and at least nine out of ten pupils go to two higher stages of three and two to three years respectively. In addition to more traditional “colleges”, there are also a number of vocational schools that also conduct adult education.

Higher education takes place at a number of colleges and at the seven universities (including Trinity College in Dublin, founded in 1592). The number of students in higher education has increased in recent years, as many young Irish people, especially women, have chosen to study when they have not been able to get a job.

In 2010, approximately 38 percent of all Irish 25-34 year olds had a college education or equivalent.

Most universities and colleges do not charge tuition fees for students from Ireland and other EU countries, but students must pay a registration fee, which for the academic year 2012/2013 was expected to amount to a maximum of EUR 2250.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

95.9 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

16 (2012)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

13.1 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

13.1 percent (2015)



“The EU exceeds its powers”.

December 19

In a statement from the Irish Ministry of Finance, the European Commission is criticized for interfering in Ireland with national affairs in the matter of the multinational company Apple’s taxes (see August and September 2016).

Ireland in 6th place on Oxfam’s worst tax haven list.

December 12

Ireland ranks high on the aid organization Oxfam’s list of countries that offer the best conditions for companies that want to avoid paying taxes. In its report, Oxfam cites the example of Apple, which, according to the European Commission, has paid 0.005 percent in corporate tax, which means there is less money to fight poverty in the country. The Irish government rejects Oxfam’s claims and claims that the country complies with international regulations.


Irishmen perform suicide bombings in Iraq

November 6

A Dublin man, Terence Kelly, who converted to Islam is killed when he commits a suicide attack near the Iraqi city of Mosul. (6/11)


Small social investments in this year’s budget

October 12

This autumn’s budget includes several new initiatives, including the state pension, jobseekers’ contributions (for those over the age of 26) will be increased by 5 euros a week, social security contributions will be reduced by 0.5 percent, a special support introduced for people who will buy their first home is promised, plus an Irish variant of the Swedish root deduction. 2400 new teacher services will be set up, 1,000 midwives hired and 800 police officers. The only tax increases announced are a 50-cent surcharge for a 20-cigarette package and a 2018 soft drinks tax. The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the independent body to oversee budget work, says the government now, together with previous tax cuts, will break EU rules by reducing the budget deficit by 0.3 percent and not 0.6 percent as the EU requires.


Thousands in protest against abortion laws

September 24th

Thousands of women gather in Dublin and 20 other cities to protest against the Irish abortion laws.

The government agrees on the appeal of Apple’s taxes

September 5

Prime Minister Kenny succeeds in overcoming disagreement within the government on the appeal of the EU Commission’s decision on the issue of Apple’s taxes (see August 2016). However, Kenny has been allowed to agree to allow an independent commission to investigate Ireland’s tax policy vis-à-vis multinational companies operating in the country. Apple has said the company should appeal the decision in European courts.


Setback for Ireland and Apple

August 30th

The EU Commission decides that IT giant Apple will have to pay € 13 billion to Ireland for non-payment of taxes. According to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the large tax relief that the US company has received in Ireland can be compared to government subsidies that distort international competition. The Irish Government says it will appeal the decision. However, there is disagreement within the government as to whether it is right to appeal.


Abolition of abortion law is rejected

July 7

The Chamber of Deputies votes against a bill that would make it legal to abort fetuses that have a fatal malformation. Prime Minister Kenny urges his party mates to vote no, arguing that the bill contravenes the Constitution’s eighth amendment which guarantees the fetus and mother the same right to life. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil vote against the proposal, which is dropped by the numbers 95-45.


Abortion laws are criticized

June 9

The UN Human Rights Committee criticizes Irish labor laws. It is about a 2011 case where a woman was denied an abortion even though the fetus she was carrying would die in the womb or die shortly after birth. The woman’s only choice was to pursue pregnancy or travel to another country to have an abortion. This, according to the UN, violated her right not to be cruel, inhuman or degrading. The government subsequently appoints a citizen panel to prepare the issue and admits that the situation is unsustainable.


The only Kenny re-elected in the fourth attempt

May 6

Just over two months after the election, a fourth attempt is made to appoint a head of government and now Enda Kenny is re-elected prime minister, with the votes being 59-49. He is expected to form a minority government.


No new prime minister yet

April 6

A new vote on who will become new head of government will be held at the beginning of the month. This time too Kenny gets the most votes, 51, while Micheál Martin gets 43 and Ruth Coppinger, from the Socialist Party, 10.


The Chamber of Deputies fails to elect a new head of government

March 10

When the Chamber of Deputies assembles to elect a new Prime Minister, four candidates are in office. In addition to Enda Kenny, Michaél Martin, from Fianna Fáil, Gerry Adams from Sinn Féin and Richard Boyd from People before Profit. Kenny receives the most votes (57), but not enough to be elected.


No clear winner in the election

February 26th

However, Fine Gael will be the largest party with 50 seats and just over 25 percent of the vote, ahead of Fianna Fáil with 44 seats just over 24 percent of the vote. The third of the elections will be Sinn Féin, who will receive 23 seats and just under 14 percent, which is a clear increase, but still less than what the opinion polls have pointed to. Several smaller left-wing parties are also emerging. In addition, the number of independent members will be record-breaking: 17. The election’s main loser will be Labor, which receives less than 7 percent of the vote. The turnout is just over 65 percent.

Ireland Best Colleges and Universities