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The basics
Ireland: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Cork

Cork is Ireland’s second city. It’s a modern place with a mythical past, where you can find magical stones, world-famous markets and buzzing nightlife all mixed together.

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Cork is the second-largest city in the country, and its residents often claim to live in the ‘true’ capital of Ireland! This popular university town is well-known for its exciting food scene, affordable cost of living and vibrant nightlife. 

 

With the River Lee cutting through it in multiple waterways, Cork is a beautiful city with a historic centre filled with castles, forts, cathedrals and forgotten corners.

 

Despite a turbulent economic history, today the city is home to artisanal coffee houses, traditional Irish pubs, a small but lively music scene and an endless array of historic alleyways and avenues to wander down. 

 

Beyond the city limits, you’ll find the stunning country of Cork and the rest of the rugged west region of Ireland. From dramatic coastlines to quaint country towns, wildlife parks and ancient sites, Cork’s place at the southern end of the Wild Atlantic Way is a perfect starting point for endless adventures.

 

Cork offers a huge amount of things to do and a relaxed lifestyle, all at a significantly cheaper cost than if you lived in Dublin. With the capital city just a few hours’ drive away, why not enjoy the best of both worlds?

 

Find out what Ireland has to offer international students.

 

What is Cork like?

 

Location and demographics

Cork is a prominent coastal city and major port in Ireland. You’ll find it on the southwestern coast of the country. The city is situated where the River Lee meets the Irish Sea and is just three hours from Dublin.

 

Cork is a diverse city and constantly welcomes new residents, visitors and students from around the world. More than 10 per cent of the population are of non-Irish nationality, while nearly 15 per cent were born outside of Ireland.

 

You can research what it takes to get a student visa in Ireland and how to qualify for a post-study work visa

 

Culture and history 

Cork was originally the site of a monastery but became a settlement under the Vikings in the 10th century. It has always been an important settlement due to its ideal location for trading. It became Anglo-Norman in the 12th century and grew over the centuries, before being taken over by the English in the 17th century. It was a hub for national resistance to British rule in the 20th century and today is a vibrant centre for the arts, crafts, and culture.

 

Find out how you can apply to study in Ireland

 

What universities are in Cork?

 

Cork is home to several universities with international reputations and excellent academic programmes, making it a great choice for international students. You could choose to study at University College Cork, which is ranked in the top 350 universities in the world according to QS World University Rankings 2023This prestigious institution was founded over 175 years ago and has a rich heritage of scholarship combined with modern research excellence. More than 3,000 international students study there, and you’ll be able to choose from 120 different programmes across academic and professional disciplines.

 

The Cork Institute of Technology is another option for you as a student here, an excellent choice if you’re looking for career-focused courses that lead to professionally valued qualifications. They offer programmes across a wide range of engineering, science, business, humanities and arts subjects.

 

Munster Technological University is another choice for Cork students, with six campus sites across the region – four of which are in the city. It has a student population of over 18,000 and offers 140 different courses across undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

 

Explore more universities in Ireland

 

What does Cork offer students?

 

What transport is there? 

Cork is a relatively compact city, so you can manage most journeys by walking or cycling. It’s also served by an efficient bus network that covers the city, and offers easy access to the suburbs and other towns nearby. Taxis, car rentals and Cork’s international airport make it easy for you to get stuck into your travel plans, whatever the destination.

 

Read more about the top five things you can do in Ireland.

 

What about entertainment and food?

Cork is internationally renowned as one of, if not the best, spots for innovative and amazing food experiences in Ireland. The city is home to the world-famous English Market, one of the highest-rated food markets across Europe, where you’ll find everything from chocolate to cheese and everything in between. 

 

This incredible range of Irish food finds its way into restaurants and pubs around the city, whether you’re looking for a great breakfast or a fine meal before a night out. You’ll also find various cinemas, theatres, events and outdoor activities across the city.

 

Is there accommodation?

You’ll be able to choose from all kinds of student accommodation types during your studies in Cork. From on-campus student halls to privately rented houses, you’ll be able to pick from catered or self-catered living options. There are also plenty of options for couples and families, as well as sociable private halls equipped with everything you’ll need and plenty of social spaces.

 

What public services are there for students?

As an international student living in Ireland, you’ll be able to use a range of services and resources offered through your university. This is monitored and supported by the Irish Council for International Students to ensure your rights are protected. You may also be eligible to work in Ireland during your studies or as a graduate.

 

How much does it cost to live in Cork?

 

The general cost of the city

Cork is a great choice of student city as it’s significantly cheaper than Dublin. As a result, you’ll be able to pay less for essentials like rent, utilities and groceries, meaning more of your student budget can focus on having a great time. Despite this, other cities like Galway might be able to offer an even cheaper lifestyle depending on your choices.

 

Find out how much tuition fees in Ireland cost

 

Student budget

As a single international student living in Cork, you could expect to spend between EUR 150 and EUR 350 per week. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation and other living costs. Your budget will vary depending on your living arrangements, lifestyle and activities, and where in Cork you live.

 

Get more information on the cost of living in Ireland

 

Financial requirements

The Irish government asks that international students demonstrate that they have at least EUR 7,000 accessible for the first year of their studies and evidence of access to a further EUR 7,000 for each additional year of study. Evidence of an equivalent value scholarship or sponsorship from a family member is also valid. 

 

Our guide to the top scholarships in Ireland may help if you need financial aid. 

 

What are the main attractions in Cork?

 

Cork is a treasure trove of Irish culture and history, with a broad programme of regeneration resulting in a cosmopolitan and exciting urban environment to explore. Ireland is the home of Irish whiskey, and where better to learn about its story and have a taste than the Jameson Experience in Cork? This museum welcomes more than 100,000 happy visitors a year!

 

You’ll also be able to visit the Titanic Experience while in Cork, the city where the famous ship stopped to pick up its last passengers before sailing into the Atlantic Ocean. It includes recreations of the boat itself and the ticket desk, on the very spot it once stood, allowing you to follow in the footsteps of those ill-fated travellers.

 

The Cork City Gaol is a major historical site in the city. It will allow you to get a deep insight into the trials of the 19th-century justice system and the struggles that people faced during that time.

 

No trip to Cork could be complete without kissing the famous Blarney Stone, found in Blarney Castle. This legendary item, which is said to have chosen kings, is set into the underside of the castle towering battlements. You’ll have to be lowered upside down to receive the blessing of this prophetic stone.

 

It’s not hard to see why many of Cork’s locals like to call it the ‘true’ capital of the country. With one of the largest natural harbours in the world, this is a community steeped in history and tradition that continues to develop as an exciting and youthful university city. Don’t forget that you can find your ideal study path in Ireland using our course matcher tool

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