Irish educational institutions and study programmes

Below, we explain what types of educational institutions and study programmes there are in Ireland. We also explain how we check whether these are recognised and/or accredited. We check the to make sure that the quality is sufficient. We give the necessary information per educational sector.

Secondary education | diplomas

Students conclude lower and upper secondary education with exams for a diploma:

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) issues the secondary education diplomas.

Higher education | educational institutions

There are different types of higher education institutions in Ireland:

  • universities;
  • institutes of technology;
  • colleges; and
  • private institutions.

These educational institutions offer professionally-oriented and research-oriented education. Only the universities provide mainly academic, research-oriented education.


Irish universities offer mainly academic honours degree programmes, master's programmes and doctoral programmes (PhD).

The universities in Ireland:

  • National University of Ireland (NUI). The NUI includes 4 universities:
    • University College Dublin (UCD);
    • University College Cork (UCC);
    • National University of Ireland Galway; and
    • National University of Ireland Maynooth.
  • University of Limerick (UL);
  • University of Dublin, known as Trinity College Dublin (TCD);
  • Dublin City University (DCU);
  • Technological University Dublin;
  • Munster Technological University (MTU).

You can find information about changes in technological universities on the Higher Education Authority (HEA) website: New Technological Universities.

Institutes of technology

There are 9 institutes of technology in Ireland:

  • Athlone Institute of Technology;
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology;
  • Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology;
  • Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology;
  • Institute of Technology, Carlow;
  • Institute of Technology, Sligo;
  • Letterkenny Institute of Technology;
  • Limerick Institute of Technology; and
  • Waterford Institute of Technology.

These institutions offer degree programmes and study programmes for other types of diplomas.


Colleges are often small institutions that specialise in a particular direction. They provide professionally oriented higher education or research-oriented education. During the last 15 years, most colleges have stopped being independent institutions. They are now part of one of the universities.

Colleges may not award degrees, diplomas or certificates themselves. Only universities, institutes of technology and the QQI are allowed to do so.

Private institutions

In addition to public higher education institutions (universities, colleges and institutes of technology), there are also private higher education institutions. The QQI must approve all study programmes offered by private institutions.

Checking the recognition of higher education institutions

Higher education institutions need to be recognised in Ireland. There are various overviews of recognised higher education institutions:

Higher education | study programmes

In Irish higher education, students can obtain various diplomas. On our webpage about Irish higher education, you can find information about various study programmes and diplomas.

Checking the recognition of study programmes

Study programmes need to be recognised in Ireland. You can check the recognition in the following way:

  • Is the study programme offered by a recognised higher education institution (see above)? In that case, the recognition of the study programme is in order.
  • Is the education institution of the study programme not included in the overviews of recognised higher education institutions (see above)? Then check if the study programme is recognised:
    • Open the QualifaX National Learners database.
    • Look up the study programme, for example by typing the diploma name (Award Name) and the educational institutions (Course Provider).
    • Is the study programme included in the database? In that case, the study programme is recognised.
    • Is the study programme not included in the database? Then the study programme is probably not recognised.