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The Irish Education System

Ireland has a long and honourable tradition in education dating back to the middle ages when its monks were amongst the principal education providers to the western world. This tradition is carried on to the present day and is reflected in the wide international recognition afforded Irish education qualifications and the increasing number of students from overseas studying in Ireland.

Higher and Further Education
In Ireland the academic year runs from September to June. There are nine universities, the oldest of them Trinity College Dublin formed in the late 16th century. There are also thirteen Institutes of Technology and a number of teacher training colleges. All are funded by the Ministry of Education and offer a range of programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Arts & Humanities, Medicine, Engineering, Science & Technology and Business. In addition there are a number of independent colleges recognised by the Ministry.

Higher vocational/technical studies
Higher technical and vocational education is offered by the Institutes of Technology and specialized colleges. Institutes of Technology offer two-year certificate, three-year diploma and four-year degree programmes in the applied fields of engineering, science and business studies, as well as some postgraduate courses.

University level studies
Stage 1: Bachelor`s degree
Description: The main stage of higher education leads to a bachelor`s degree, which may in certain cases also be a professional qualification (professional degree). The length of study generally varies between three and four years. The bachelor`s degree may be awarded as a general degree, an honours degree and a BA (special) degree. In veterinary medicine and architecture studies last five years.
Stage 2: Master`s degree
Description: The second stage of higher education consists of more advanced (graduate) studies and leads to the master`s degree. These studies last a minimum of one year after the award of the bachelor degree. Candidates who attend a course of study and/or present a thesis based on research are awarded earned master`s degree.
Stage 3: Doctorate
Description: A further two years` study after the master`s degree are normally required for the Ph.D. degree.
Stage 4: Higher Doctorate
Description: A higher doctorate may be awarded, after a minimum of five years (usually longer), following the award of the first doctorate, for original work already published.

Teacher Education
Primary school teachers follow a three-year course leading to the bachelor of education. Secondary school teachers take a one-year university course culminating in the higher diploma in education. Teachers of home economics take a four-year bachelor of education (home economics) and art teachers take a degree or diploma course at a recognized college followed by a one-year post-diploma/degree course. Proficiency in the Irish language is a requirement for employment in Ireland as a primary school teacher. Those intending to train as a teacher in Ireland are advised to contact their home Department of Education re. recognition of foreign qualifications.

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