The levels of education in Ireland are primary, secondary and higher (often known as “third-level” or tertiary) education. In recent years further education has grown immensely. Growth in the economy since the 1960s has driven much of the change in the education system. For universities there are student service fees (up to €3,000 in 2015),which students are required to pay on registration, to cover examinations, insurance and registration costs.
The Department of Education and Skills, under the control of the Minister for Education and Skills, is in overall control of policy, funding and direction, while other important organisations are the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, the Higher Education Authority, and on a local level the Education and Training Boards are the only comprehensive system of government organisation. There are many other statutory and non-statutory bodies that have a function in the education system.
Students must go to school from ages 6 to 16 or until they have completed three years of second-level of education.Under the Constitution of Ireland, parents are not obliged “in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State.”However the parental right to home-educate his/her child has met legal contests over minimum standards in the absence of constitutional provision for State-defined educational standards.
In 1973 the Irish language requirement for a second-level certificate was abandoned. However the Irish language remains a core subject taught in all public schools with exemptions given to individual pupils on grounds of significant periods lived abroad, or with learning difficulties etc.
While English is the primary medium of instruction at all levels in most schools across the state, Gaelscoileanna i.e. Irish-language schools, have become increasingly popular outside Gaeltacht regions where they have traditionally been. In these schools, Irish is the primary medium of instruction at all levels and English is taught as a second language starting in the second or third year of secondary school.
At third level, most university programs are through English with only a few Irish options. Some universities offer courses partly through French, German or Spanish.
Studying in Ireland has one of the best education systems in the world in regarding to higher education achievements.
Education is compulsory for all children in Ireland from the ages of six to sixteen or until students have completed three years of second level education and including one sitting of the Junior Certificate examination. Primary education commonly starts at four to five years old. Children typically enroll in a Junior Infant class at age four or five depending on parental wishes. Some schools enrollment policies have age four by a specific date minimum age requirements.