Preschool in Ireland remains optional and most of these institutions are private and require payment fo children to enter. Primary education has been split into different types of institutions, which one a child enters is down to choice. National schools are often lead by a certain member of a religious order. There are also primary schools whose official language of instruction is Irish, as opposed to English, these schools are becoming more popular. Another increasing trend are primary schools that allow students from all religions to study together, which other primary schools prevent. Apart from these, students can pay to enter a private primary school as well.
Secondary education is comprised of secondary schools that offer vocational education, teaching pupils the basics of a certain craft/trade/profession. There are also secondary schools that like their primary counterparts, teach only in Irish instead of English. Voluntary secondary schools, often run by a certain religious communities provide general secondary education in various schools subjects. These are all chosen by the student/parents.
Universities in Ireland offer certain students to apply under a "Free Fees Scheme", where if the student meets certain requirements (Being an EU student, having been registered in the EU for 3 years prior to application to enroll in a full time undergraduate degree) these students are able to study at Irish universities without paying tuition fees. The universities themselves will determine if a student can be considered under the Free Fees Scheme. However even these students must pay around 2500 Euros per academic year, a charge which covers various student services provided by the university. Non EU students pay varying amounts of tuition fees depending on the university and the program choosen. It is thus recommended to check with universities individually for exact prices for desired programs.
The Irish universities often use a percentage grading system, where anything above 70% is considered excellent and all grades under 40% are considered a fail.
To apply to universities in Ireland for undergraduate degrees., students have to register and apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) http://www.cao.ie/ this is only a centralized system to help collect and process student information and act as a medium between the students and univesities, only the universities can make the final decision on admission. Post graduate applications are done directly to the university themselves.'
To apply to universities in Northern Ireland, students must register and process themselves through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) http://www.ucas.com/
The majority of Universities and programs in Ireland are taught only and fully in the English language.