National Higher Education System
The higher education system in Ireland is broad in scope and encompasses the university sector, the Institutes of Technology, the Colleges of Education and private, independent colleges. The institutions which fall within the first three groupings are autonomous and self governing, but substantially state funded.
There are seven Universities in Ireland, including four that are component colleges of the National University of Ireland [NUI]. There are twelve Institutes of Technology, offering vocationally-oriented courses in a wide [and increasing] range of courses, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The Colleges of Education are teacher-training institutions.
In theory, there are no tuition fees in Ireland. However, EU students have to pay an annual 'registration fee' of €2500.
Grants & Loans
EU students who comply with stipulated EU residency rules can claim a 'Fees Grant' from Irish state, in payment of the whole or part of the 'registration fee,' subject to a means test.
To claim a Maintenance Grant, EU students must satify certain criteria as to residence in Ireland.
Applicants to Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology, apply through a sophisticated and transparent centralised application system: the Central Applications Office [CAO].
CAO has a regular applications deadline of 01 February and a late deadline of 01 May. Those who have applied before the latter deadline have until 01 July to change their choices, should they wish to.
The Universities and Institutes of Technology publish entry points for each of these courses in early August. These points are usually within 5-10 points of previous years' points but dont rely on this because bigger changes have been known. Points are based on grades achieved in your A-Levels or IB.