Becoming a Student

Every year hundreds of people across the country consider returning to education.  A third level degree from UCC, and the skills you develop while completing your qualification, can make a huge difference not only to your career prospects but also to you as a person.  The aim of all our degrees is not just to educate you in your chosen subjects but also to change the way you look at the world.  Attending a full-time undergraduate degree requires commitment; therefore it is essential to consider the implications so that you are fully informed and ready to handle any challenges that may arise. 

It is important to choose the degree programme that is right for you.  Whether you want to pursue your life passion to study an area of interest or you are considering a career change please check out UCC’s degree programmes (Click here) to see if we offer something in your particular area of interest. If you are not sure where your strengths lie or what exactly would suit you in terms of undergraduate degrees, then please do contact our team in the Mature Student Office or 021 4901873.

While it is vital to pick a course that you are interested in, it is also important to be aware of the career and further education options that may be available when you complete your degree. 

Click on the links below to explore the jobs and further education opportunities that UCC students have advanced to after their initial undergraduate degree.

UCC Careers Services - Destinations

Postgraduate Options

If you are a parent returning to full-time education in UCC then childcare could be a major consideration for you and your family. 

UCC does operate its own crèche but places are limited and there is a waiting list. Check out  for more details.

The UCC Students Union can provide some financial help to parents while in college. See for more details.

Each degree has a different amount of contact hours.  Contact hours are the amount of time you spend in direct contact with your lecturers through lectures, tutorials, seminars and/or labs. You will have assignments, class tests and exams at various points throughout the year and these all require that you study independently of the contact hours. It is important to allocate your time for studying, completing assignments and researching separate to these contact hours. When making your decision to return to education it is really important that you factor all this in.

UCC is now semesterised. This means that you will have 2 x 12 week semesters in each academic year. Semester 1 begins in September and Semester 2 begins in January. Most degree programmes will require you to sit exams at the end of each semester. More details about semesterisation can be found here

The Mature Student Office is dedicated to supporting mature students therefore we would encourage you to contact us in the first instance and we can advise and direct you to the most appropriate service to help you out. For a list of the support services available in UCC go to

No, the Leaving Certificate is not required for entry to most of our degree programmes. The mature student admissions route takes into consideration your life experience, work experience and /or voluntary experience plus your motivation for undertaking the degree.  However, for degrees such as Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry, Leaving Certificate Chemistry and either Physics or Biology is required at a Higher Level C3. Leaving Certificate Maths is required at a Higher Level C3 for Engineering. The requirements for each degree are listed here  

FET/QQI courses are an excellent way of getting a feel for studying and an introduction to academia.  As many UCC degree programmes require evidence of work, life, educational and/or voluntary experience, these courses could also be an important part of your UCC application.

Entry to the first year of a large number of degree programmes at UCC is available on a competitive basis to students who present with one of the recognised QQI FET (FETAC) qualifications (Click here for more information). However, students must meet the specific module requirements and have achieved the required distinctions (i.e., 80% or greater).

For more information on where to find pre-entry FETAC/QQI courses and part-time/evening courses click here.

Finance is an important consideration as you will be at least three years studying and without a full-time job.


There are three elements to fees:

  • Tuition Fee
  • Student Contribution Fee
  • Capitation Fee

1. Tuition Fee - Varies according to degree

Under the Government's Free Fees Initiative, the tuition fees for certain full-time undergraduate students is paid by the State to UCC. To be eligible, a student must

  • be a first-time undergraduate student,
  • be of EU nationality or have official refugee status,
  • have been resident in an EU member state for at least three years before their entry to an approved course
  • be studying a full-time undergraduate course of at least two years' duration for the first time.

For further information, see the Fees Schedule information.

2. Student Contribution Fee

For entry in 2016, this will amount to €3,000*. This is an annual fee (subject to change) and must be paid by all students. Students in receipt of a 3rd level maintenance grant will have this paid by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). 

If you are in receipt of The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) or another social welfare payment, you may be entitled to apply for this contribution fee to be paid through SUSI which can be accessed through


3. Capitation Fee

This capitation fee covers membership of the Union of Students of Ireland (USI), the Mardyke Sports Arena and essential student services.  The capitation Fee of €165* (in 2016/17) is not covered by the Higher Education Grant Scheme. All students must pay this fee. 

Higher Education Grants

The Higher Education Grant Scheme provides means-tested grants to eligible students who are pursuing approved courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The grant scheme is administered online by SUSI. Students should check to make an application or to check eligibility. Prospective students may apply to SUSI before they are offered a place on an approved course.

Estimated Cost of Living

When estimating your cost of living for an academic year, i.e., one nine-month period from September to May inclusive, include rent, weekly supermarket shopping, some meals on campus, electricity bills, heating bills, refuse bills, parking fees, mobile phone expenses, travel, clothing, snacks on campus, socialising, health, books and materials, and of course the Student Contribution Fee and the Capitation Fee.

Student Assistance Fund

The Student Assistance Fund is funded by the Department of Education and Science with assistance from the European Social Fund as part of an initiative to tackle disadvantage. All full-time registered students are eligible to apply for assistance from the fund. Resources will be targeted at those disadvantaged students who are most in need. In order to be eligible to apply for student assistance, you must be registered on a full-time undergraduate or postgraduate course of not less than one year’s duration in a participating college. Unlike the maintenance grant schemes, you cannot be considered for Student Assistance prior to registering in a participating college.

For further information please contact:

Student Assistance Fund Office


T: +353 (0)21 490 3562

Student Budgetary Advisor

Budgeting as a UCC student is all about making "sensible sacrifices" regarding what you spend your money on.

And trying to balance your income with your expenditure.

In other words, what's going out of your pocket shouldn't be more than what is going in.

The Budgetary Advisor will help you, as a UCC student, manage your money by:

  • Providing "one to one" advice and guidance on managing your money.
  • Delivering workshops on budgeting for students, where information and practical advice will be available to you.
  • Assisting students in the completion of your grant, scholarship and Student Assistance Fund (SAF) applications.
  • Liaising with UCC student support services, such as Fees, Counselling and SAF, on your behalf.
  • Liaising with external agencies, such as MABS, Department of Social Welfare and Protection, Local Authorities and St. Vincent de Paul, on your behalf.

See more information about the Student Budgetary Advisory at  


Mondays and Tuesdays (9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm)

Wednesdays (until 1pm only)

Please click here to make an appointment with the Budgetary Advisor. 


1st Floor, 1-2 Brighton Villas (located in Castlewhite apartment complex, Gaol Cross), UCC, Cork.


Please note – If you do not pay your fees on time you may be subject to financial penalties
in accordance with the UCC Debtors Policy available at:

*Subject to change

Mature Student Office

Oifig na Mac Léinn Lánfhásta

1 - 2 Brighton Villas, Western Rd, Cork, T12 V304