With plenty of internships and stay-back options, Ireland lays out a possible route for an academic journey.

Republic of Ireland, voted the friendliest country by Lonely Planet, is a possible destination for students seeking to fly abroad for quality education. While Trinity College, Dublin and University College Dublin rank high on the Times Higher Education list of top universities (TCD ranks 129 this year and UCD 161), there are other institutes too that offer good courses in various areas. Students enjoy a lot of freedom, usually being on first-name terms with their teachers. Cities like Cork and Dublin offer a rich cultural life, with a lot of literature and music.

There is a stay-back option for a year after completing the course, during which the graduates can seek employment within or outside Ireland. The universities support and encourage innovation and cross-disciplinary interaction by setting up innovation centres. Depending on the course, students are sent for work-placements (internships) in the second or final year of their undergraduate course, which often spans four years, even for a BSc.

There is, literally, a price to be paid, however, and that is the cost of the course. International students have to pay three to four times the fees paid by EU students. Further, there are living expenses as well. Students try to offset this by taking up part-time jobs — they are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week. Signboards are both in Irish and English and if you speak good English that can really help you in Ireland. Some universities are bilingual, for example National University of Ireland at Galway.

From art to engineering

Cork, in the south-east region of Ireland, hailed the “real capital” of Ireland, boasts two institutions: Cork Institute of Technology and University College of Cork (which has been ranked between 276 and 300 by THE). CIT is the only institution in Ireland to have a recognised MA in Art Therapy. Students from various disciplines — nurses, teachers, social workers — with a well developed portfolio in Art, are welcomed to this course. The candidate is trained to develop a skill in making clinical interventions in individuals and groups, for example, by making a critical analysis of their creative process. On completion of the course, the successful candidate may register with the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists, which is an added accreditation. The Mechanical Engineering degree from CIT is also highly valued, according to popular perception.

University College of Cork (UCC) offers many good courses, in engineering, for example. It is well known for Food Science too, and gets many international visitors in the study of Religions and Asian Studies. The university recently signed MoUs with IIT Madras to facilitate exchanges in research.

Not far from Cork, is Limerick, which has the university with the most beautiful campus with river Shannon flowing through it. University of Limerick has floated new programmes such as BSc and MSc in Nursing. The Electronic and Computer Engineering department offers a four-year undergraduate programme in Engineering where the student is assisted in getting an eight-month paid internship after the second or during the third year. The university offers courses relevant to present times, such as in Environmental Recycling and Optoelectronics. There are also interesting postgraduate courses such as M.Engg in Information and Network Security, which emphasises on cryptographic math and Higher Diploma in Mobile and Secure Cloud Computing. The latter is a taught one-year programme which should interest people. It leads to a 12-week work placement (internship) or even at times, direct employment.

Towards the interior of Ireland, not too far from Dublin, is Shannon town. Shannon College of Hotel Management, in Shannon, offers a business degree in hotel management. The five-year degree has two internships, in the second year and final year, which can help the student enter the field. The first placement helps candidates discover which field of specialisation interests them, while during the second they often gain experience in managing units, in Ireland or even other countries.

The Dublin scene

For those with eyes and ears for cross-disciplinary courses that could lead to employment in relatively new and upcoming sectors, new 3U courses involving National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Dublin City University and Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, are to be launched soon. Examples are M. Engg. in Healthcare Technologies and M.Sc. in Humanitarian Logistics and Emergency Management.

Among the gamut of courses offered by Dublin City University, the MA in sexuality studies is a new and special course. Starting this year with 17 students from across the world, this course is an umbrella term for studying women, masculinity, LGBT issues and asexuality. On completion, candidates may move on to work in psychiatry, health, human resources and teaching.

A good place to study MSc in Cloud Computing or Analytics and Mobile Technology would be National College of Ireland. They offer the course at a much lower price than Trinity College, for example. The college hosts research scholars in Technology Enhanced Learning.

After being used to the long distances one travels in India, the cities in Ireland would seem much closer and travelling between them might be easier than here. Experiencing the student life in Galway or literary activity in Dublin can hold excitement and learning. Those who are interested may explore further at the education fairs to be hosted in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in the month of November.

The writer was invited to visit institutions in Ireland by Enterprise Ireland.