Education in Ireland

Education is compulsory from the age of six to sixteen and students must have completed at least three years of second level education. The education system is comprised of three levels.


Some 506,000 students receive primary level education in over 3,200 schools, owned mostly by religious communities and are state-funded. The curriculum includes language, mathematics, social, environment and scientific education, arts education including visual arts, music and drama, physical integration, social personal and health education.

Second level

This level is comprised of secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools which are privately owned and managed. Some 350,000 students attend over 750 schools nationally. Second level education consists of a three year junior cycle followed by a two year or three year senior cycle. The last two years of the senior cycle are dedicated towards acquiring the Leaving Certificate.

Third level

Some 140,000 students are in full time third level education consisting of universities, institutes of technology and colleges of education which are substantially funded by the state. Recently a number of independent, private colleges have cropped up mainly offering business degrees.