Think outside the CAO box: consider studying in Europe - Low fees, no CAO and an international experience, writes Brian Mooney in the Irish Times this week in his article outlining the attractions of European Study:
Eunicas is the European University Central Application Support Service, set up in 2011 to support students in Ireland and the UK seeking to access the growing number of undergraduate degrees in continental Europe, which are taught exclusively through English.
Undergraduate programmes through English are offered in more than 20 countries. There is no CAO-style application system co-ordinating European entry so students are faced with the vagaries of over 20 different systems. There is some level of centralisation in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
However, in the Netherlands, for example, the system is not set up for international students and universities like to get students on to their own online systems as soon as possible. Different universities, even different faculties within the same university, have different processes and application deadlines.
Through the Eunicas system a student can apply to up to eight programmes across Europe in addition to their CAO and UCAS choices.
Eunicas will offer independent advice on the course choice you may be considering and ensure applications arrive on time in the correct format, with supporting documentation.
It gives support and advice to parents and students throughout the application process and makes contact with admissions’ counsellors for specific programmes, or sets up appointments for students to check out universities. The service costs €28, eunicas.ie
The attractions of European study
Some universities, for example Utrecht, Leiden (Netherlands), Gottingen (Germany) and Lund (Sweden), are higher ranked than all Irish universities. Others, for example, Groningen, Maastricht, Milan and Aaarhus, (southern Denmark), are highly ranked and have excellent resources and student support structures.
2. Lower entry requirements
Some programmes that are difficult to enter in Ireland are more readily accessible in Europe. Some Irish high-points disciplines such as medicine, veterinary science, physiotherapy and psychology, have far lower entry requirements in European universities.
Entry requirements are generally reasonable. In most EU countries, the philosophy is that students have a right to a third-level education and the entry bar is set low. The quid pro quo is that students have to work hard. Those who do not commit to their studies are weeded out at the end of first year. In the Netherlands, for example, it is illegal for universities to select solely on the basis of grades. Most programmes, including those at the very best universities, look only for NUI matriculation (six passes, two at honours C3 or above, to include maths and a language), though many will also interview you or look for a personal statement and/or references from your school. Some programmes, especially medicine, will ask you to sit an entrance test.
There are free or low fees in many countries. In Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and many German states there are no fees. In Austria, Switzerland and Belgium fees are usually less than €1,000 a year. In the Netherlands most courses are €1,850 a year and there are grants and loans from the Dutch government. If you qualify for an Irish maintenance grant, you can take it with you to an EU University. Most medicine and veterinary programmes do not have low fees, although some are beginning to appear (eg, Universita di Milano’s fees for medicine are €800-€3,000 a year, depending on parental income). The cost of living in most European cities (with exceptions such as Oslo or Copenhagen) is usually less than in Dublin. There is a wide variety of help for students such as free health care in Denmark or free travel in the Netherlands.
4 . Competitive CV
If you choose to study abroad you will have an international qualification and experience in an increasingly globalised employment market. You might even have picked up a language or two. No knowledge of foreign language is required. All classes, exams, essays, books and class interaction are in English.
Brian Mooney is a Guidance Counsellor and regular contributor to the Irish Times.
More information on Studying Abroad here - UK, Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand
The CareersPortal Team