Written by Hannah Slack
With a large range of funding opportunities available for both domestic and international students, Ireland is a great place to consider for your PhD studies. With a focus on providing industry experience to students, Ireland boasts a high employment rate for its graduates.
Ireland offers funding from multiple sources, from government funding in the form of full scholarships through to smaller travel grants. Many Irish universities also provide their own scholarship awards or financial incentives. We’ve covered all the main forms of funding available in Ireland for prospective students and explained how these opportunities could best support your studies.
Irish PhD funding – what you need to know first
Though small, Ireland is a stunning country with amazing landscapes and one of the oldest higher education systems in the world. While their university system dates back to the 16th century, their attitude to higher education is anything but old-fashioned. In fact, many Irish universities continue to rank highly in the global rankings.
Ireland’s passion for research is also reflected in their array of funding opportunities for both domestic and international students. Here are some of the key things to note:
- Ireland has plenty of funding opportunities on offer and due to the Common Travel Area agreement, Irish students have access to some of the UK funding initiatives and financial support (and vice versa)
- Ireland has a strong focus on commercial enterprise and helps students to enter both academic and non-academic careers post-graduation
- Doctoral fees are usually higher for international students, but Ireland has many funding opportunities to help cover tuition and living costs
- Ireland offers international students the opportunity to apply for a two-year post-study work permit allowing them to remain in the country and gain valuable work experience
The cost of a PhD in Ireland
Generally, the cost of a PhD in Ireland is cheaper than in the UK. However, tuition fees will depend on your nationality and subject of study. We’ve covered everything you need to know about the cost of a PhD, including estimated living expenses and additional student costs.
Tuition fees in Ireland are set by the individual universities. Usually, the cost will sit between €4,000-€9,000 a year for domestic students, depending on the university, mode of study and subject area. However, subjects such as Medicine and Business Studies can sometimes be more expensive.
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss students should expect to pay higher fees of at least €9,000 a year but some courses may be as high as €30,000.
The overall living cost for PhD students in Ireland is estimated to be around €1,000 per month.
Accommodation is slightly more expensive than in the UK, with the average rent being €427 a month, though this will vary depending on the type, size and location. The average student will spend around €170 on food and €330 for utilities, travel and other expenses.
International students will need to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau to receive an Irish Residence Permit. This costs €300. With the permit, international students will be allowed to work during their studies. During semester time students cannot work more than 20 hours a week, but outside of the semester dates this increases to 40 hours.
Aside from tuition fees, PhD students will also have to pay registration fees, a student contribution and the Student Centre Levy, currently set at €254. Often these costs are included in the advertised course fee. But make sure to still check with the university website.
Irish Research Council PhD funding
The Irish Research Council provides an array of funding opportunities for both domestic and international PhD students.
The Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme
Funded by the Department of Education and Skills, this scholarship programme provides financial support to international students seeking to study in Ireland. Successful applicants will have to demonstrate a history of academic excellent in their subject to be considered. Upon success students receive an annual stipend of €16,000 as well as a yearly contribution to fees, exceeding no more than €5,750. Any fees incurred that go over this amount will have to be paid for by the student. The programme will also cover any direct research expenses up to the amount of €2,250 a year. You can read more in the Irish Research Council website.
Enterprise Partnership Programme
The Enterprise Partnership Programme joins research students in any discipline with an enterprise partner for their postgraduate degree. Students will then be expected to research an area directly related to their organisation. By the end of the degree students will have gained both research and workplace skills in a particular field. Partners have and could include charities, companies and public bodies on both a national and international scale.
Applicants must hold a Masters degree or a first-class or upper second-class Bachelors. You do not have to be a domestic student or resident of the EU to apply. Awardees will receive an annual stipend of €18,500 as well as a yearly fee contribution of up to €5,750 and a research expense fund of €3,250.
Employee-Based Postgraduate Programme
Similar to the Enterprise Programme, the Employee-Based Programme is there to provide doctoral students with the opportunity to work with an Irish employer throughout their research degree. The organisation will host the student who will research a particular area of interest for the company. Aside from domestic and EU students, this scheme is also open to non-EU applicants as long as they meet the immigration regulations and have the support of a higher education or employment partner. More information can be found in the Irish Research Council website.
It is up to the discretion of the employer to determine the wage of the doctoral student as many companies may have current employees enter this scheme. But, the company must provide a minimum of €9,000 per annum to cover the employment costs of the doctoral student.
The Irish Research Council offers a variety of other funding opportunities for students from certain countries, those researching particular subjects, or travel grants for conferences and events. You can read more about these opportunities on their website.
Another option for PhD funding is to check what opportunities are offered by the university you intend to apply for. Many universities have in-house incentives for researchers from different backgrounds or studying particular subjects. Opportunities could range from fee reductions and grant awards to full scholarships.
Under the Common Travel Area arrangement, Irish nationals who live in the UK or Ireland are able to access funding from UK Research Councils if they choose to study at a UK university. If successful, students are awarded a full tuition fee waiver, an annual stipend of at least £15,285 and a Research Training Support Grant of £5,000 to cover additional research costs.
UK government doctoral loan
Irish students are also eligible for the UK government PhD loan if they intend to study in either England or Wales. Currently you can request a loan worth up to £27,265 for the entire duration of the PhD. This will be paid in three instalments each year. The loan cannot be used in conjunction with any other form of UK public funding or Research Council studentship.
It is unlikely that the doctoral loan will cover all tuition and living costs throughout your PhD. Many students secure other forms of funding or employment to cover their costs.
Other forms of funding and financial aid
Many other research organisations also offer funding opportunities for doctoral students. Usually these will either be short-term funding or subject specific scholarships. Make sure to research organisations in your field of study in case they offer any scholarships, awards or grants.
Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA conducts research into climate change, as well as facilitating a greener economy and protecting the natural environment. Joining with Fulbright, the EPA runs a PhD scholarship award that will financially support successful applicants throughout their degree.
Agriculture and Food Development Authority
Walsh Fellowships provides funding for students in the Agriculture and Food Development research area.
Technological Higher Education Association
The Ireland Homecoming Study Programme offered by the Technological Higher Education Association supports descendants of Irish nationals to pursue higher education at Institutes of Technology.
Foreign scholarship schemes
Ireland has many connections with foreign institutions to help encourage a diverse and more globalised educational environment. Some examples of foreign scholarships include:
Aside from funding, Ireland offers a couple of initiatives to help students fund their postgraduate education.
If you are paying for an approved course and an approved college, you may be eligible to receive a taw relief on the qualifying fees. Administration fees, the student centre levy, sport centre charge and the Union of Students in Ireland levy to do count as qualifying fees. However, the student contribution does. The maximum amount that can be claimed is €7,000. The first €3,000 of the total fees is disregarded for a full-time student but the rest is eligible for tax relief. You can read more on eligibility and the application process on the Irish Revenue Commissioners’ website.
Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI)
Student Universal Support Ireland awards students with maintenance support grants. Usually only Irish, UK, EU, EEA and Swiss national students with low household incomes are eligible to apply. Support for postgraduate students can be provided for a maximum of four years and the amount provided will depend on a needs basis.
Depending on the student’s level of income they may qualify for either a Postgraduate Fee Contribution of €3,500 or a Postgraduate Fee Grant of up to €6,270. In order to be eligible for support the student’s household income must be below €54,240.
If your household income is below €24,500 then you may be eligible for a Special Rate grant which offers the maximum amount of funding available.
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Last Updated: 15 November 2021