Coming from Ireland? Here is what you need to know if you want to validate your studies in Spain

Equivalencia de estudio entre España e Irlanda: todo lo que necesitas saber

The fact that both Ireland and Spain belong to the European Union (EU) implies a degree of harmonization in the accreditation of studies between these two countries. A recognition of academic qualifications exists but it is necessary to undertake a series of specific procedures. From Best Schools in Spain, we will help you by clarifying how it is possible to validate the academic studies.  


Although the EU promotes academic and professional mobility, differences still exist in educational systems, and it is necessary to ensure that qualifications obtained in one country are recognized in another. The validation of academic degrees in the EU, even among member countries, may require certain administrative procedures that vary from one country to another. Therefore and before all, we recommend contacting the Spanish Ministry of Education or the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain in Ireland for accurate and up-to-date information on the requirements and the specific validation process.


Correspondence of Studies between Ireland and Spain 


The Irish secondary education system, known in Spain as ESO (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria), is divided into two cycles: “Junior Cycle” and “Senior Cycle” each lasting three years. The first cycle consists of a general program, while the Senior Cycle is more specialized, focusing on preparing students for various university and professional options.


After each cycle, there are two official exams in Irish secondary education: the “Junior Certificate” taken at the end of the first three years, and the “Leaving Certificate” exam, which takes place at the end of the last three years. The latter serves as both a graduation and university entrance exam for Ireland and the United Kingdom.


The first year of the Senior Cycle is called the “Transition Year” and it is the equivalent to the 4th year of ESO. Both aim stimulating the personal, social, educational, and vocational development of students. It combines practical and useful knowledge with a basic academic curriculum. This year is voluntary and academically straightforward, making it widely accepted among international students. However, due to its voluntary nature, in Ireland, it is possible to proceed to the 5th year without issues for the validation of studies. The last two years (5th and 6th) are a preparation for the “Leaving Certificate” exam, equivalent to the Spanish EVAU.


The academic year in Ireland is divided into three terms with a two-week holiday period between each, typically coinciding with Christmas and Easter. Additionally, there is a one-week break in the first two terms, known as autumn holidays at the end of October, and winter holidays around February.

Validation of Studies between Ireland and Spain 

In order to obtain the validation of studies for the academic year completed in Ireland, the Spanish Ministry of Education requires having successfully completed the entire course. Students undertaking studies equivalent to 3rd year of ESO or lower do not need to validate anything. When restarting the course in Spain, it is sufficient to submit a notarized copy of the academic certificate issued in Ireland during the enrolment process.


However, students studying the equivalent of 4th year of ESO or Baccalaureate in Ireland must validate the completed course by submitting a homologation request to the Spanish Ministry of Education and Professional Training.


Several documents will be required, primarily the original certificate and a copy of the “Junior Certificate” along with its translation if in a language other than Spanish, and some document proving identity and residency in Spain. Administrative fees associated with the validation process may need to be paid. Upon completion of the evaluation, you will receive an official document certifying the equivalence.

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