Foundation Programme

Information Guide for Parents and Students – non-EU

One Year International Foundation Courses
– Private & Public Colleges/Universities

Foundation courses are a great way for young adults to enter Universities in Ireland. They are especially appropriate for students who have received their high school education outside Ireland.

Foundation courses are also known as pathway, preparation or pre-university programmes. They give access to excellent universities and undergraduate degrees in Ireland and in the UK. You can choose from a wide range of degree subjects in many excellent and prestigious Universities and Colleges.

The foundation course acts as a bridge between your current qualifications and university undergraduate entry requirements. It fills academic gaps, improves your English, familiarises you with Irish life and culture, and prepares you to succeed and excel at university.

Rockbrook International offers a complete Pathways Programme for international students in five established universities/colleges in Dublin, Ireland.

We will take care of all the key elements of your stay in Dublin. We will find your accommodation, collect you at the airport, and ensure you begin well. We organise Saturday trips, cultural visits and fun activities.

We offer career guidance and personal advice and help at every moment of your stay. We organise a special breakfast morningat the beginning of term so all the international students can meet each other and make new friends.

Moving to a new country can be difficult and at times stressful. We will be there to support you at every step on your journey to success, and help to make it all a wonderful experience.


One way to enter University in Ireland is through a Foundation Programme.


Students who successfully complete a recognised Foundation Programme qualify directly for a very wide range of university degree programmes. (A few professional degrees have extra requirements, but these are exceptional).


Foundation Programmes are generally for an academic year, September to May. A January start may also be possible.


This pathway into Irish Universities is particularly suitable for students who have not come through the Irish education system, coming to Ireland perhaps after high school in another country.


Some Foundation Programmes also provide a pathway into Universities in the United Kingdom and Around the World.


They are also a pathway into other Third Level Colleges in Ireland, which provide education and training for many other professions.


A Foundation Programme is also a great way to experience Ireland for the first time, improve one’s English, make new friends, and be better prepared to succeed and prosper at University.

Ireland has a vibrant and growing economy and is the European headquarters
for many of the world’s biggest Tech companies.

Why Choose Rockbrook?

Rockbrook School is a private secondary school located in Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, Ireland. Rockbrook International is the international office of the school.

Rockbrook International organises various programmes in Ireland for students from all over the world. Our High School programme is our flagship service. Throughout the year it caters for hundreds of visiting students. We have dozens of partner schools in Dublin where our international students study in class with Irish students. We have private and public schools, boys schools, girls schools and mixed. Most students live with local host families, like one more member of the family. A few stay in boarding schools.

In recent years we began offering programmes to older students who have finished school and want to study at university level in Ireland or the UK, but don’t yet meet the entry requirements. We created a Pathways Programme to help these students access their desired career paths.

With a dedicated team of experienced student advisors we support our students at every step of their journey. Our complete service provides everything a student needs to take full advantage of their experience. Finding accommodation, course registration, 24/7 student support, career
guidance, weekend activities and unlimited airport transfers are all offered as part of our
complete Pathways package. You or your families back home, can contact us at any time about any issue, big or small.​

Total reassurance, maximum benefit …

Rockbrook has been organising International Programmes in Dublin since 1985

The Georgian Building, Rockbrook School, Dublin 16

Moving to a new country can be difficult and at times stressful. We will be there to support you at every step on your journey to success, and help to make it all a wonderful experience.

Dublin has become the technology capital of Europe. Many of the worlds largest tech companies have chosen Dublin for their European headquarters, including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Microsoft.

There is a modern district in the city along the Liffey River where most of these company’s offices are located.

Why choose Dublin, Ireland?

Ireland is a wonderful place to live and to study

English is the main language. Ireland is now the largest English-speaking country in the European Union (now that our neighbours, the UK, have left the EU).

Ireland has an excellent system of education. Dublin, the capital city, now has four universities.

It has a thriving economy, based mainly on agriculture, information technology, electronics, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

Irish people have a reputation for being friendly, especially to visitors.

Ireland has a pleasant, temperate, climate, with no extremes of heat or cold. The environment is clean and healthy, dominated by an Atlantic airflow.

The green landscape is famous, with parts of Ireland renowned for their natural beauty. Dublin has many fine parks and is close to the sea and to mountains.

Ireland has a great cultural tradition, especially in literature, music and painting, classical and modern, with many world famous writers, poets, and musicians.

In general it is a safe country. The Irish police (Gardai) are very helpful and are available at all times.

Public transport is good in Dublin with an extensive bus network, an urban tram (LUAS) and a light train service along the coast (DART).

Dublin Airport has routes to all major European and global cities. Ryanair is an Irish company.

Living costs in Dublin can be expensive, especially when renting accommodation. Other costs are in line with other European capitals.


“My name is Zoe. It has been an amazing experience to study in Ireland over the past four years. When I first came to Dublin on my own, Rockbrook assigned an international student their children have had in advisor to help me. My advisor was like a good friend, we had a great relationship. Rockbrook also provided helpful Cambridge preparation classes for us. My English and my school results have improved so much. Now I am studying in UCD, the biggest university in Ireland”

Zoe (20), Hong Kong
(former student of Loreto College Foxrock, now in UCD)

Application Requirements

Entry requirements vary from college to college, but some general requirements are common.

Having a good level of English is essential. Most colleges require a minimum score in either the IELTS or TOEFL English exams (usually 5.0 for IELTS and 60-70 for TOEFL). These exams are difficult so you will have to prepare well in advance to achieve the required minimum score.

All colleges will ask for a transcript of your High School results. These are the results you receive at the end of your final year in school. Depending on your choice of course, you will be required to have good grades in relevant subjects.

Some colleges may request an interview. This will be made clear when applying for your desired course. All colleges want to see enthusiastic and focused students, so make sure you are passionate about your chosen course.

Studying in an Irish College

An essential part of the Pathways Programme are the Colleges and Universities. No two institutions are exactly the same. There are many factors to consider when choosing a college and we will help you make the best choice for your interests and talents.

Foundation courses usually combine general topics with some specialisation, directed towards your preferred field of study at university. For example you might choose between Science-Engineering or Business-Sociology topics during the Foundation Year, to prepare you better for your choice of degree.

Once you meet the entry requirements, our experienced career guidance councillor will guide you in deciding which college is best for you.


Self-motivated and focused


High School Results


IELTS / TOEFL English Test

We have partnership arrangements with
the best Colleges and Universities in Dublin

Trinity College

(In partnership with Marino Institute of Education)

Trinity is ranked 1st in Ireland and 101st in the world. Trinity also ranks in the top 100 in 18 subjects, globally. QS World University Rankings 2020
Trinity’s International Foundation Programme is aimed at students who have the drive and ambition to attend a world-class educational institute, but cannot begin an international undergraduate degree directly.

TCD’s International Foundation Programme is a year-long programme designed to allow students to develop the skills required to succeed and excel in a competitive university environment

Entry Requirements:

HKDSE 5 subjects with at least 2 at level 4 (not including Chinese) and remainder at level 3 or above.

About the Course:

Core Modules: English for Academic Purposes and Mathematics


choose 2 from the following 3 options

Pathway A – Business, Economics and Social Science


Pathway B – Engineering and Science


Chemistry Biology


Pathway A: €16,480

Pathway B: €17,995

Trinity International Foundation Programme Scholarship Award:

Scholarships valued at up to 5,000 euro each, applied as a reduction of the tuition fees of the International Foundation Programme. There are several scholarships available.
Applicants come from around the globe, who have non-EU status and will pay non-EU tuition fees.
The scholarship will be assessed based on academic achievement, and evaluation of the applicants’ potential to contribute to the overall TCD community.

NOTE: Students who successfully complete the Trinity International Foundation Programme, and receive the required final grades, are guaranteed entry into their chosen degree stream the following academic year. Some programmes also require students to pass an interview. https://www.tcd.ie/study/international/foundation-programme/


University College Dublin

(Study Group in partnership with UCD)

UCD is one of Europe’s leading research-intensive universities; an environment where undergraduate education, masters and PhD training, research, innovation and community engagement form a dynamic spectrum of activity. The international standing of UCD has grown in recent years; it is currently ranked within the top 1% of higher education institutions world-wide. UCD is also Ireland’s most globally engaged university with over 30,000 students drawn from 136 countries, including almost 4,000 students based at locations outside Ireland. The University’s main Dublin campus occupies an extensive parkland estate of 133 hectares and offers world-leading facilities.

Entry Requirements:

You must have achieved the following:

English Language: IELTS: 5.0 & min of 4.5 in each band on the Academic Version (except Humanities and BA Joint Honours: 5.5 & min 5.5 in Writing & 5.0 in each other band on the Academic Version) TOEFL: 60 in Internet based TOEFL (iBT) with a score of at least 17 in each section ((except Humanities and BA Joint Honours: 70 in Internet based TOEFL (iBT) with a score of at least 19 in Writing and 18 in each other section (Reading, Listening, Speaking)


Secondary 5 (S5) Top Schools: grade D / Level 2 in 4 distinct relevant academic subjects.

Secondary 5 (S5) Other Schools: 20% on top of the pass mark in 4 distinct relevant academic subjects (i.e. 60% if pass mark is 40%), 2C and 2D in 4 relevant academic subjects, 2x Level 3 and 2x Level 4 in 4 distinct relevant academic subjects including maths.

HKDSE (Secondary 6 (S6)): minimum Level 3332 in 4 distinct relevant subjects (must have 3 in maths for Business pathway, must have 3 in maths or science for Science / Engineering pathway).

In all cases only academic subjects from categories A Senior Secondary Subjects (core (including Liberal Studies) and elective subjects) and C Other Language Subjects are acceptable. Category B: Applied Learning Subjects not accepted.

About the Course:

Choose from two subject routes:

Pathway A: Business, Economics and Social Sciences

Pathway B: Engineering and Sciences

Assessment and progression

Assessment is a combination of examinations, coursework, presentations and extended essays. Complete the International Foundation Year and achieve the required grades, then you can progress to your chosen degree in UCD.


Pathway A: €18,250

Pathway B: €19,500


Technological University Dublin

(TU Dublin)

Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) is Ireland’s first Technological University, offering a unique range of programmes and disciplines, with pathways to graduation from foundation and apprenticeship to undergraduate and doctoral levels. TU Dublin is the university where the arts, business, sciences, engineering and technology converge and its 28,500 students and researchers come from all over Ireland and from all parts of the globe.

Entry Requirements:

ILS level 5/6
Secondary School Results


Business Management and Accounting

Social Science and Humanities

Science (including Physics, Engineering and computers)

About the Course:

1st semester core modules, 2nd semester specialise in 1 of the electives listed:

Core Modules

  • English for Academic Writing and Reading
  • Communicative Competency
  • Applied Writing
  • Mathematics information Technology
  • Introduction to Higher Education



The International Foundation Programme (IFP) is a one year programme run by TU Dublin. It has been developed for international students who need language and/or academic preparation for further study on undergraduate programmes in Ireland. Upon successful completion of the programme and International Foundation Certificate (Special Purpose Award, Level 6, 60 ECTS Credits) will be awarded by TU Dublin and you will be guaranteed a place on your undergraduate programme of choice at TU Dublin.

‘TU Dublin is a different kind of university. We are not limited by old-school thinking. We’re not linear. We’re lateral. We’re not about fitting in. We’re about making an impact. Our visual identity communicates this spirit of change. It is confident and bold. A bit of a trailblazer. It has been carefully crafted. It expresses the potential of the University and of our students to make a difference – not just to Dublin or Ireland, but to the world. The possibilities are infinite’



Dorset College

Established in 1983, Dorset College is an independent third level institution which is located in Dublin 1. Situated in beautiful Georgian buildings, with elegant spacious rooms, Dorset Colleges offers a learning environment where you can take academic, professional or short course opportunities with a professional pathway to shape your future career. Their graduates work in many of the leading industries in Ireland and abroad.

Entry Requirements:

  • A completed online application form: https://www.dbs.ie/application-form
  • All academic qualifications & transcripts to date
  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Evidence of your English level (usually IELTS or TOEFL). This is necessary for all students where English language is not your native language even if you have completed your primary and secondary education through English.


Choose one of the following:

Business / Pharmacy / Medical /Engineering

About the Course:

All Students take 6 common modules and choose one subject from the electives

Modules Common to the 4 Streams:

  • Orientation Module
  • Cultural & Intercultural Studies
  • Professional Development, Research and team working Skills
  • ICT and Presentation Skills
  • English for Academic Purposes
  • Mathematics



The program runs with two annual intakes; January and September of each academic year.

Those who successfully complete this course will have the opportunity to progress to a degree programmes in certain Institutes of Technology or Universities in Ireland.

‘Be part of a culturally diverse group of learners from all over the world while unlocking your learning potential with small class sizes, a diverse student community and enjoy extra-curricular activities.’


Dublin International Foundation College

(In Partnership with Griffith College)

Dublin International Foundation College (DIFC) was set up in 1999 to deliver specialised foundation courses preparing international students for entrance into partner universities in Ireland and the UK. Both undergraduate and postgraduate level programmes are taught and students who successfully complete these are placed in a wide-variety of Higher Education courses.

Over the past few years, DIFC has placed over 1,000 students onto undergraduate and postgraduate courses in partner universities and colleges in Ireland and the UK.
Due to their reputation for running quality foundation courses as a pathway to university entrance, DIFC was appointed by NCUK to deliver its qualifications in Ireland, specifically the NCUK
International Foundation Year (IFY) and NCUK Master’s Preparation (PMP).

Entry Requirements:

Form 5/Year 11 60% pass.


Form 6/Year 12 passed


Courses available + Fees (Registration cost not included)

Business: 12,600

The program runs with two annual intakes; January and October of each academic year.

Guaranteed Placement

The NCUK International Foundation Year (IFY) is designed with NCUK university partners to prepare international students for first year entry to undergraduate degree courses. Its purpose is to help bridge the gap between a student’s local qualification and starting a university degree.
Universities worldwide and UK NARIC (National Recognition Information Centre) formally recognises the NCUK International Foundation Year as a comparable level to GCE A Level; Australian high school (SSCE); American high school (AP); and Hong Kong high school (HKDSE) qualifications.

Students who successfully complete the IFY gain guaranteed access to thousands of degree courses at one of NCUK Guaranteed Universities.

‘The ultra-modern gateway to Europe and the UK, yet boasting a rich Celtic tradition which still provides the spirit of the nation – Ireland will be your pathway to university and career success on the global stage.

Ireland has one of the highest education participation rates in the world today. In turn, this has had a positive impact on the economic growth and development of our country.’


Living with a Host Family

A very attractive feature of our programmes is that students stay with local Irish host families. They are treated as a member of the family and made to feel welcome in the family home. They may be given small jobs to do, like making their bed, tidying their room, helping with setting the table for meals. They must follow family “rules“, typical in any family with teenagers.

Our families are carefully chosen and regularly visited by Rockbrook staff. They are selected based on their family values, their friendliness, trustworthiness, compassion and on their ethical principles. While the majority of our host families are Catholic, not all are actively practicing and some are non-religious.

The host family must live in a comfortable and safe environment and be able to provide for all the student’s basic needs. Typically the family will have children living in the house but some may be retired with their children no longer living at home. We will place students with families living on a good transport routes (bus or tram) so accessing the college will be easy. The student will have their own bedroom. Many Irish families have a pet, usually a dog or cat. If the student has allergies to pets or you have any special requests please let us know.

We want our students to feel at home in their host families. The host family is one of the most important elements of a student’s stay. Let us know the type of family you prefer and we will find you the best option!

Student Support

Every student on our Pathways programme is assigned an international student advisor. Our experienced team of advisors are there to help students settle-into life in Ireland and with any personal matters that may require attention.

As part of the Pathways Programme we offer the highest level of student support. The advisor will keep in regular contact via WhatsApp etc. and will meet with the student every month, sometimes at the college, other times on Saturdays in Rockbrook School. Advisors are also available if the student’s parents wish to discuss any issues. Our advisors are adults who have experience dealing with students. They are from Ireland or have been living in Ireland for many years so they are used to the cultural differences and know the way of life here. Our advisors are friendly, trustworthy and reliable and they offer essential support throughout the year.

In the case of emergencies we are contactable 24/7.

Personalised Attention

24/7 Emergency Support

Regular updates

Saturday Plan

On Saturdays our international students attend morning English classes followed by an activity. The students are brought to the school by their host families at 10am and collected in the evening at 5pm. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the other international students, make friends and experience Dublin at the same time.

English Classes

Students attend English classes on Saturday mornings from 10:30am to 12. The classes take place in Rockbrook School. There are generally about 15-17 students per class. They do general grammar and conversation classes and Cambridge Exam preparation classes. Our Saturday teachers are experienced and dynamic.


The English classes are followed by an activity. Depending on the weather it could be indoor or outdoor. We try to vary the activities as much as possible. It could be a cultural experience like visiting a castle or museum or a fun activity like bowling or swimming. A Rockbrook staff member will be present at all times throughout the day.


Sundays are a free day, a chance for the students to explore their surroundings, spend time with their host families, or meet up with their friends. Or maybe just to relax after a busy week …

Other Considerations

Cambridge Exam

The English classes on Saturday mornings in Rockbrook cover general grammar and conversation. At certain periods during the year the classes will focus on Cambridge exams preparation. These exams have two parts: an oral test (interview) and a grammar test. All candidates receive a certificate with two grades; one for their spoken English and one for their proficiency in grammar. Both are graded according to the Common European Framework.

The Cambridge examination they take will depend on their level at the time of the exam; PET, First Certificate, Advanced and Proficiency. It requires a lot of preparation and hard work. It is an Exam that is known worldwide so it has added value. The exam usually takes place in May.


In every academic year there are holiday periods and mid-term breaks. The most important holiday periods are Christmas and Easter. All students should return home for the Christmas holidays. The mid-term breaks vary from colleges to college and are usually a week long in duration. There are no classes during these breaks but students are expected to use this time productively and continue to study and work away on course assignments.

Rockbrook will organise one full day excursion during each secondary school mid-term break. We will bring the students to visit a place of cultural or historic importance, like a castle or museum. If the weather permits we will organise an outdoor activity to a place of natural beauty.

Medical Insurance

All Non-EU students must have a valid private health insurance. This is mandatory. Details of this insurance must be sent to Rockbrook before the day of arrival.

All EU students must come with the European Health Insurance Card. This covers any emergency treatment the students receive while in Ireland (doctors’ visits, hospital visits etc.) They can also bring a private insurance cover if they wish (e.g. Mondial Assistance) although these are generally more awkward as a fee has to be paid that can be claimed back at a later date.

Book & Course Material

Students will be expected to acquire any textbooks and other materials needed for their course.

Public Transport

Public transport fares are the responsibility of the student. In Ireland all students can avail of cheaper rates by applying for a Student Leap Card. This can be done through the college where they study. This card can be used on all buses, trams and urban trains. The card has to be ‘toppedup’ every few weeks to make sure adequate funds are available.

There are also many city bike rental schemes where student’s can avail of cheap bikes for short term trips (30- 40 minutes).

Our Package

COMPLETE PACKAGE: Total reassurance, maximum benefit. (see below)

Our Pathways programme is available with different course options. The options available to you will depend on whether course entry requirements are met. We have access to foundation courses in two colleges and three universities, all located in the city of Dublin.

The Pathways Package we offer is relevant to all course choices.


host family


24/7 student support with regular meetings


professional career guidance


assistance with course application


Saturday English classes and activities


Cambridge Exam


mid-term excursions (during school terms)


all airport transfers


€10 Leap Card


‘breakfast welcome’ for other international students

Price guidelines

The total price for the Foundation Programme will range from Euro 25,000 to 34,500 for the academic year.
The exact price depends mainly on the choice of College and course, and on the length of stay. This price range is for the complete programme (including academic fees, accommodation, and the full range of support services). It assumes 34 weeks of accommodation, which is typical.

(In other words, you should add to the College fee about Euro 14,500 for accommodation and other expenses.)

When your choices and preferences have been finalised we will let you know an exact price.

*Note: the guarantee of a place in the University naturally depends on achieving the right standard in the Foundation Programme, which in turn assumes an appropriate level of study and progress during the year.

Email us at info@rockbrookinternational.com for more information