Studying a Masters in Europe


People pursue Masters studies for a variety of reasons, such as to advance in a chosen career path, to hold an additional qualification in that field (which could lead to higher pay when entering/re-entering labor market), to broaden their knowledge or even completely change career paths. For each of these reasons and more, master’s degrees can be very worthwhile pursuits. According to an OECD report, in 2018, 12% of Irish people had completed a master’s degree or equivalent, while the likelihood of an Irishman starting a master’s program in their lifetime is an impressive 25%, several points above the OECD average. 19 percent.

However, not all Irish who study for a Masters do so in Ireland, and many people choose to study abroad instead. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as the high cost of tuition fees in Ireland, the high cost of living, the variety of courses offered, and the desire to live in another country and experience another culture. .

In Ireland, the price of master’s degrees for Irish and EU/EEA students ranges between €4,500 and €12,000. Studying in the UK or USA can be extremely expensive for Irish students who have not received funding to continue their studies. However, studying within the EU can be very profitable, for a highly respected and regarded degree.

For Andrew Cotter, who is studying a master’s degree in political science at Vrije University in Amsterdam, an equivalent degree would have cost him around 10,000 euros in Ireland, while in Amsterdam it costs around a quarter.

Michael Bruun Nielsen chose to study a Masters in Ecology and Conservation at Uppsala University in Sweden, where there are no tuition fees for EU/EEA students.


Fi Carroll — a recent fashion design graduate from NCAD — is considering a master’s degree in fashion design with textiles. With very few options in Ireland, they had always hoped to study in the UK; however, they now plan to study in Scandinavia.

“For me, the fees elsewhere in Europe are a huge draw. In Sweden, it’s completely free to study there as an EU citizen, so naturally that’s a big draw compared to Sweden. ‘Ireland.

In Denmark, international students can receive a government scholarship if they have a part-time job, for their contribution to the Danish economy in addition to their salary. It’s also a major pull factor for Carroll.

The allure of living abroad itself was a factor in pursuing a master’s degree in Uppsala, for Bruun Nielsen, but it was also an opportunity to leave the family home, which he did not think otherwise be possible in Ireland.

“I knew I wanted to move overseas, mainly because I knew I couldn’t move to Ireland even though I had a job, so it was more about moving than anything else.”

Andrew Cotter says his main reason for doing an MA abroad was “just to live abroad, or just move in general, but moving to Ireland wasn’t really an option”.

Cotter was similarly motivated, citing that his main reason for doing an MA abroad was “just to live abroad, or just move in general, but moving to Ireland wasn’t really an option”.

Carroll also thinks that “generally the idea of ​​studying and living in another country is exciting”, and that it will push them to study abroad when the time comes.

As Bruun Nielsen considered where to pursue a master’s degree, Covid-19 and the level of restrictions in each country was a major factor. There were a handful of similar courses elsewhere throughout Europe; however, Sweden had the lowest level of restrictions. “I thought it would have been difficult to fit in in a very restricted place, like Ireland and like a lot of other countries, so Sweden, I could move here and I could kind of get involved in things. things, I could meet people.”

Bruun Nielsen began studying online from Sweden at the end of August, and by early October he was attending lectures in person. Since then, there has been a two-week period of restrictions, where nightclubs closed, other venues had capacity rules and talks went live in February. However, apart from these occasions, the restrictions remained very light.

Restrictions in the Netherlands have been stricter for Cotter. With the rise of Omicron last November-December, all of his lectures were moved online and Cotter chose to go home.


For Carroll, the limitations and monotony of confinement in Ireland have also encouraged them even more to look abroad when choosing where to study. “Not being able to travel for long enough and work and study from home definitely made me crave a bit of adventure and the chance to experience something other than Dublin.”

When tuition fees are much lower abroad than they are in Ireland, other expenses such as accommodation and living costs must be taken into account when choosing to study abroad. ‘foreigner.

In Uppsala, Bruun Nielsen found his accommodation far more affordable than any equivalent in Dublin. “Housing is much cheaper than in Dublin. Sweden also has quite a few rights for tenants, so you have to have a minimum standard of living to rent somewhere, so the place you get will have to be at a minimum standard.

Otherwise, the cost of living in Sweden differs from that in Ireland in many ways. Social infrastructure such as public transport and health care are heavily subsidized, while daily expenses are quite high. “It’s mainly social things and buying food that are expensive. Health care is really affordable, and there are a lot of caps on how much you’re allowed to spend on medical services, so I guess in the long run it all balances out.

Bruun Nielsen also found that there was a big social difference between the Irish and the Swedes. “The biggest culture shock is definitely the people, and the way you get to know people is very different, it’s less immediate – you’ll have to lay the groundwork first, but once you get to know them, they’re great.”

“I thought they would be a lot less friendly than they are, they’re still friendly.”

Finding accommodation in Amsterdam proved difficult for Cotter. Student accommodation at the university was full when he moved to the Netherlands last year, and he spent the first month of his course in a hostel. He then returned to Ireland for a month, and it wasn’t until he returned when he told the university that if he couldn’t find accommodation he didn’t know if he could continue his studies, that he was eventually offered emergency student accommodation by the university.

Cotter now lives in a studio close to downtown. “I think for what I have and the location, it’s a good price in that sense. I wouldn’t get anything like this in Ireland anyway.


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