Higher Education Institutes in Ireland are recognised globally for their excellence, and many Irish universities consistently secure high ranks across major world university ranking league tables such as Times Higher Education (THE) and QS World University Rankings.
Why do so many international students choose to study in Ireland?
Ireland's renowned education system, marked by high academic standards and globally recognised universities, attracts students seeking quality education. The country's English-speaking environment is an advantage, facilitating ease of communication and integration. The friendly and welcoming Irish culture and the picturesque landscapes contribute to a positive overall experience for international students.
Are you an international student considering studying in Ireland? Learn more about the best universities in Ireland (QS World University Rankings 2023) below and begin your application by arranging a free consultation with SI-Ireland today.
Best Universities in Ireland
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College Dublin is one of Europe’s most reputed and Ireland’s best learning centres. Over the course of its journey of more than four centuries, the institute has been a global leader in high-quality, internationally recognised education.
From arts to politics and from science to economics, Trinity College Dublin has a stellar record in almost all subjects. Trinity is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin and has been the alma mater of several prominent figures, including Oscar Wilde, Mary McAleese, and William Rowan Hamilton.
- Popular courses: History, Computer Science & Information Technology, Biology, Performing Arts and Philosophy.
- Acceptance rate: 33.5%
The largest university in Ireland, University College Dublin, is ranked in the top 1% of institutions worldwide (QS World University Rankings 2024). A leading research-intensive university in Ireland, UCD Dublin was established in 1854 and is the country’s most globally engaged university, with more than 38,000 students enrolled from over 152 countries.
The main 133-hectare (330-acre) UCD campus is based in Belfield. The university's six colleges have 37 schools associated with them for educational programs and several research institutes to carry on innovative projects. The stupendous list of UCD’s alums includes over half a dozen Irish presidents, PMs, and several global leaders. UCD’s Michael Smurfit School of Business secured the 22nd spot in the latest Financial Times ranking of leading European Business Schools in 2022.
- Popular courses: Engineering, Business and Management, Social Sciences and Health and Medicine.
- Acceptance rate: 20%
One of the top universities in Ireland, the University of Galway was established in 1845 and has undergone several name changes over the decades. It is located in Galway and is a member of the prestigious Coimbra Group, a network of 40 of the most prestigious European universities.
From political science to psychology and medicine to engineering, the university offers various educational programmes through its five colleges and the associated schools. Home to more than 40 sports clubs and 82 societies, the university pays immense attention to promoting social interaction for a better learning experience. International students make up about 35% of the total students at the university, ensuring a metropolitan environment on the campus.
- Popular courses: Engineering, Clinical Medicine, Biology, Arts and Psychology
- Acceptance rate: 86%
A constituent institution of the National University of Ireland, University College Cork is one of the most popular Irish universities. UCC has been named Irish University of the Year by The Sunday Times on five occasions (2003, 2005, 2011, 2016, and 2017).
Founded in 1845 as one of the three Queen’s Colleges, UCC is located in southern Ireland's second-largest Irish city, Cork, and became the first university to achieve the ISO 50001 standard in energy management in 2011. In 2020, UCC celebrated ten years of becoming the first global university awarded a Green Flag by the Foundation for Environmental Education. University College Cork is home to over 24,000 students, supported by about 3000 academic, research, and administrative staff members.
- Popular courses: Nursing, Law, Pharmacy, and Agriculture.
- Acceptance rate: 41%
Founded as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, in 1972, the University of Limerick was granted university status in 1989. The institution’s 340-acre campus in Limerick is on both sides of the River Shannon.
Apart from imparting quality education to more than 18,000 students, UL also excels at translational research while aiming to apply the benefits of academic research for society’s betterment. The university's cooperative education programme is the largest of its kind in the continent and places more than 2,000 students in paid and semi-paid work globally. The university's most notable alums are Jean Butler, Patrick Cassidy and Pat Cox.
- Popular courses: Business, Mathematics, Economics and Engineering.
- Acceptance rate: 45%
Dublin City University was founded in 1975 as the National Institute of Higher Education. DCU is spread across five campuses: Glasnevin Campus (main campus), Sports Campus (St Clare's), DCU Alpha Innovation Campus, St Patrick's Campus, and All Hallows Campus.
The first university in Ireland to introduce work placement as part of degree programmes, Dublin City University has been collaborating with several global universities, including the University of Wollongong (Australia), the University of Wales, Lampeter, and the University of Buffalo (US). DCU is regarded as one of the country's leading centres of entrepreneurial studies, thanks to its focus on promoting entrepreneurship through the DCU Ryan Academy.
- Popular courses: Information Technology, Business, Engineering and Communications.
- Acceptance rate: 20%
Among the youngest and most prestigious Irish universities, Maynooth University has two connected campuses. One has 19th-century buildings, while the other is a modern campus.
Founded in 1997, Maynooth University is a constituent institution of the National University of Ireland located in the town of Maynooth. The university is an internationally esteemed young university ranked 85th in the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings of 2023. It is divided into three main faculties, divided into departments and schools. Over 15,000 students are enrolled in the university’s courses at levels—around 23% of the students at Maynooth hail from more than 95 countries from around the world.
- Popular courses: Mathematics, Law, Computer Science and Chemistry.
- Acceptance rate: 73%
More popularly known as TU Dublin, the Technological University Dublin is Ireland's first technological University. It was founded in 2019 after amalgamating three existing Dublin institutes of technology. The university's flagship campus is located within the Grangegorman region in Dublin, and four others are in the capital city.
The university is known for extensive collaboration with industry and for asserting an industry-focused approach in its education programmes. More than 30,000 students are supported by over 3,000 staff members across all campuses. TU Dublin comprises five faculties and provides programmes to students from over 140 countries at various levels. Around 93% of the students move on to employment opportunities or higher education within nine months of graduation.
- Popular courses: Mechanical Engineering, Accounting, Computer Science, and Communication Engineering.
- Acceptance rate: 46%