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Britain or Ireland: which is better to study abroad?

 If you are considering studying abroad and choose between studying in the UK or Ireland , then you should know that both countries have an excellent education system and some of the best universities in the world. There are many advantages for international students studying in both countries, so it can be difficult to choose between them.

So here are some facts to help you make your decision and decide which is the best destination for you and your studies.

EU, Visa, Schengen Area - what's the difference?

As you know, Britain left the European Union in 2020, and its exit was a huge political and economic problem, the consequences of which are still continuing at all levels. On the other hand, Ireland is a member of the European Union, but with regard to the travel visa, there is no difference between them because Ireland is not part of the Schengen area and therefore you will not be able to travel freely within the European Union. In both countries you will still need to apply for an additional visa to visit any other EU country.

In terms of working hours, both the Irish and UK visas allow international students to work full time for up to 20 hours per week during their studies. This period increases to 40 hours per week during the summer or winter Christmas holidays.

What about the cost of tuition fees in Britain and Ireland?

Studying in Ireland and the UK requires a similar amount of money, and is often cheaper than in the USA and Australia. When comparing tuition fees, be aware of the fact that each major has its own fees - arts and humanities tend to be cheaper in general, while programs of study that require extensive educational and laboratory facilities and services that require specialized equipment and facilities generally cost more.

You should also realize that each university has its own tuition fees, and universities in capitals such as Dublin in Ireland and London in Britain are generally the most expensive compared to universities in other cities. This also applies to the cost of living in capital cities.

Tuition fees depend on the level of the university itself. For example, prestigious universities such as Cambridge and Oxford in England will have higher fees than others, although they are not located in the English capital, London.

You should also take into consideration that the two countries have different currencies. Ireland uses the euro as is the case in most European countries, while Britain uses the pound sterling. To understand the cost of living in the two countries in general, you can learn about the exchange rate between the two currencies, to find that the British pound is slightly stronger than the euro.

To give you a practical idea on the ground, tuition fees in Ireland range from 9,850 to 55,000 Euros annually. While tuition fees in Britain range from approximately 9,250 to 26,000 pounds annually, but the fees for studying medicine in the United Kingdom, for example, reach 58,600 pounds annually.

What about the cost of living in Britain and Ireland?

Such kind of information can realistically be found on the internet. One of the best sites to compare the cost of living in cities around the world is Expatistan , where the site gives you thousands of prices for many different products that are entered into the site's database by thousands of consumers. Accordingly, you will find that the Irish capital, Dublin, is cheaper than the English capital, London, but this is not with regard to everything in terms of goods and services, so it is better to make a comprehensive comparison using Expatistan.

Other online sources indicate that the cost of living is quite similar in the two capitals; It comes to around £12,000 a year in Britain, and between €8,000 and €12,000 in Ireland. As for my personal experience of living in the United Kingdom , I would like to point out that £10,000 per year is a good and appropriate amount for living there, but it is important to check the cost of each university and the accommodation options offered through them.

In addition to the above, London does not represent the whole of the United Kingdom, nor is Dublin the sole representative of Ireland. There are many other excellent cities that offer superior study programs and much lower costs of living. For example, Bristol is 25 to 30% cheaper than London, and Galway is generally 20 to 30% cheaper than Dublin, you can also check it out on Expatistan for a realistic and up-to-date comparison .

The best universities in the world

If your choice depends only on universities and their levels, it will not be easy because both Ireland and Britain have a huge group of the best universities in the world. And through the QS World University Rankings , you will find 4 British universities among the top 10 universities in the world.

On the other hand, the best universities in Ireland are Trinity College Dublin , which hosts one of the most famous libraries in the world, and the famous University College Dublin, and the first is ranked No. 108 in the world in the QS University Rankings 2020, while the second ranks No. 185 on The world is in the same category.

The number of universities also differs between the two countries, as there are approximately 130 universities in Britain , and only 8 universities in Ireland . But this number may be reasonable compared to the population of both countries, since the population of the United Kingdom (which includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) is 66.65 million people, while the population of Ireland is only about 4.9 million people.

Is it easy to live in the two countries?

The better the university, the higher the cost of its accommodation services. So, if you choose to study at Trinity College Dublin, you will need about 8,000 euros per year for accommodation, and about 11,000 euros for housing at University College Dublin.

Like in Britain, private housing options in Ireland are generally cheaper than university accommodation. According to the Education in Ireland website , the cost of rent in Ireland is about 427 euros per month, in addition to approximately 28 euros for utilities.

The situation is similar in Britain, except that utilities and bills are included in the rent. Based on information from the National Student Survey in 2019 , a student needs approximately £439 per month for rent.

But if you choose to live in student housing at your university in Britain, according to the Times University Rankings , you will need a monthly rent amount of about £ 535, or £ 640 if you are studying in London.

How can I spend my free time?

Although London is much larger than Dublin, both offer amazing opportunities for recreation and leisure time. There are many concerts, exhibitions, clubs, parks and cafes.

Being larger in size and population, Britain may seem like a better choice for international students. But without a doubt, Ireland, also known as the Emerald Isle, offers many areas of stunning natural beauty especially if you love to spend your free time outdoors or in the countryside.

If you want to explore the best of both, there are plenty of flights between Ireland and Britain for you to get from one to the other whenever you want - if your visa allows, of course! Whatever you choose, you'll never get bored - that's for sure.

A Croatian PhD student living in the UK where she is studying full time at the University of Nottingham , with a major in Sociology.