When it comes to choosing a study abroad destination, international students show an inclination towards some regions. Europe is one of the favourites, and aspirants often end up getting confused between the UK and Ireland when they research prospects in this part of the world. Both are acclaimed for having excellent education systems and top universities.

International students looking for an ideal overseas experience can settle for either. But making a wise decision is crucial as it can influence the direction your career and life will take in the future. It makes sense to compare them comprehensively by considering different aspects. Let us share the key factors you need to understand to pick the option that works for you.


When you consider a study abroad destination, the universities there and their quality should be your top priority. A comparison between the UK and Ireland is a tough one. Both countries have some of the best universities in the world. The world-leading universities in the UK include:

You have some excellent options in Ireland too. These include:

Even as both countries have prestigious universities, there is a disparity in terms of the number of options. The UK has approximately 130 universities, while Ireland has only 8. But you may see it as a silver lining because you will not need to research a lot when considering Irish universities.


The choice of your study abroad destination also depends on the availability of the programme you want to pursue. The most popular courses in the UK include Business, Medicine (particularly dentistry, pharmacy and nursing), Natural Sciences (particularly Biological sciences), Engineering, and the Social Sciences (particularly Psychology).

International students aspiring to study Finance, Business and Management, Computer Science, Digital Marketing, and Biotechnology should consider Ireland as their study abroad destination.


Money matters a lot to international students because you will have a budget. It’s quite a tie when it comes to tuition fees as both countries have comparable rates. However, they are cheaper than in the US or Australia. Tuition fees depend on the course and university you choose. You can expect to pay less for Arts and Humanities programmes as compared to STEM courses. Universities located in prime locations like London and Dublin are more expensive for obvious reasons. Additionally, fees will be higher in prestigious universities.

Since the UK and Ireland have different currencies, you will have to make some calculations to compare. If you choose the UK, expect to spend around £9.250-26.000 per year on tuition fees, while it stands at around 9.850-55.000€ per year in Ireland. Medical courses cost a bit more in the UK, with tuition fees going up to £58.600 per year.


Apart from tuition costs, you will also be concerned about the cost of living in both countries while taking your pick. If you choose a university in either of the capital cities, expect the cost of living to be quite similar, even though Dublin may be a tad cheaper than London. Living in London costs around £12.000 per year while the cost sits at 8.000-12.000€ for Dublin.

However, you need not worry about the hefty expense of living here because costs can run much lower in smaller cities. Bristol, for example, is 25–30% cheaper than London, while Galway is 20–30% cheaper than Dublin. You can explore excellent courses in these cities, while spending a lot lesser on both tuition fees and the cost of living.


Being allowed to work as they study abroad is a key factor that international students consider when choosing their destination. Fortunately, you can do it in both countries, subject to certain regulations. Tier 4 Student Visa permits international students in the UK to work up to 20 hours every week during the term, while you can work full-time during the holidays. You are allowed to work on campus or for a university-affiliated employer.

For international students hailing from outside the EEA and studying in Ireland, it is necessary to get Stamp 2 permission. Once you have it on your Student Visa, you can work up to 20 hours per week during the semester. It permits you to extend the work period up to 40 hours per week during holidays. You cannot work without Stamp 2A.


Life begins after you complete your education abroad, so it is valid to consider whether you have post-study work opportunities in the chosen destination. While the UK had strict regulations on international students to stay back since the last decade, things are changing for the better. Students enrolling 2020-2021 onwards will have better opportunities ahead, as the government declared a new Graduate Route. It allows international students with an undergraduate degree or higher to stay back for two years or even longer if they find suitable employment.

Ireland allows international students to remain in the country after completing post-graduation here. A non-EEA international student may submit an application for the Irish Third Level Graduate Scheme within six months of graduation. It permits you to stay in the country for two years after completing their programme. You can also seek a work permit post-expiry of the scheme.

Both the UK and Ireland are excellent study abroad destinations. You need to consider factors like quality of education, university and programme options, tuition costs and cost of living, work opportunities, and future prospects while assessing for your international education dream. But everything boils down to personal preference. Take a closer look and choose wisely!

If you are considering studying abroad why don’t you discuss your prospects and opportunities with experts at Lurnable’s dedicated study abroad counselling division LurnPathways?

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