If you want to do your postgraduate course abroad, here’s why you should stay in the EU

EU flagIn 2012, the maintenance grant for postgraduate students in Ireland was scrapped, which some argue puts fourth level study out of reach of a large proportion of the population. With fees also rising, more and more Irish students may consider the option of pursuing their postgraduate education abroad as a way to actually save money. Others might just want to experience another country and culture.

If you are one of those people, it would be worth your while staying within the European Union. Under EU law, Irish people must be considered a local student in any of the 27 member states. This means that in Estonia, for example, you would have the same responsibilities to pay the same fees, and the same rights to receive the same loans/bursaries, as would a native born Estonian.

And tuition fees are relatively low across the continent. In France, for instance, postgraduate fees cost between €200 and €400 a year. In some countries, there are no fees for postgraduate courses.

One advantage of studying in the EU is that that there is over €16 billion worth of funding awarded there each year. Many of these can be found in the EU Scholarship Portal.

If you lack a foreign language, it may not be as big a drawback as you imagine. More and more, English is being seen as the ‘international language’ and most top universities in the European Union provide courses in English. For instance, one of Italy’s leading institutions, the Politecnico di Milano, now only provides courses through English.

In some countries, courses taught in English are generally more expensive than equivalent courses in the native language. Universities in the Czech Republic, for instance, don’t charge fees for courses in Czech, but generally charge around €1,000 a year for a course taught through English. This still isn’t bad, though, when compared to postgraduate fees in Ireland.

So if you are thinking of enrolling in further education and you’ve always wanted to experience living in another European country, why not kill two birds with one stone? There’s never been a better time.

For more information on studying abroad see postgradireland.com.

Developing careers in medical technology, one of Ireland’s most dynamic growth sectors


The medical technology sector in Ireland is already of great strategic and economic importance – 11 of the world’s top 13 med tech companies are located in Ireland and over 250 companies offer a growing range of careers in this sector, which already employs over 25,000 people.

Industry, academia, clinical and government agencies are increasingly working together to ensure the sector continues to grow – it is seen as one of the core drivers of the Irish economy in the 21st century, supported by the HEA’s National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 and backed up by research that shows Ireland to have the third highest proportion of maths, science and computer graduates per capita in the world.

When considering your career it makes sense to link it to sectors of the economy that are thriving, are future-proof (as much as any sector can be) and which are likely to receive both national and inward investment. The med tech sector ticks all those boxes, so what are the career opportunities in this sector?

In this sector, companies mainly operate in three areas:

1. Medical devices

Careers in this sector can be broadly divided into production processes or engineering. There is considerable diversity among medical devices production processes, leading to a wide range in the mix of skills required between different production operations. Key roles include manual assembly operatives, machine operators, technicians, quality control and quality assurance staff, operations managers and operations supervisors.

Key specific engineering disciplines that are predominant in the sector include biomedical; production; industrial; manufacturing; validation; automation; process design; product design; polymer; research & development; quality engineering.

2. Diagnostics

Where devices include significant biologically active components (these are components which cause biological change within the human body), companies employ scientists, science technicians and processing operatives with skills similar to those of the pharmaceutical or bio-pharmaceutical industries. They undertake roles parallel to those of engineers, technicians and machine operators in manufacturing biomechanical and bioelectronic devices. With the increased use of biologically active substances in the medical device sector’s products, the needs for professionals with skills in biotechnology are in high demand. This trend is making skills in biological sciences, chemistry and pharmacology all the more important to innovation in medical devices, alongside the clinical and engineering skills that have traditionally dominated innovation.

3. Service/associated career options

Given that it is a highly regulated industry, other roles that are prominent in the industry and provide good careers prospects include the following:

Regulatory affairs professionals track compliance of operations with regulatory requirements, advise other staff on regulatory matters, report on compliance and manage relationships with regulatory authorities.

Healthcare economists have a leading role in establishing the benefits of a device quantitatively, and communicate these benefits to healthcare providers, health insurers and other organisations.

Future careers in the industry

As well as providing current career opportunities as outlined above, future developments in this sector are likely to lead to an even wider range of career prospects. Medical technologies are becoming increasingly more complex, and many companies are now engaged in research and development. Sectors such as medical devices, biotechnology, diagnostics, ICT, software and the pharmaceutical industry are recognising the opportunity to combine traditionally separate scientific disciplines to form new, more innovative ‘smart combination technologies’. Advances have resulted in new services, therapies or products such as drug-device combination products, ICT-device combination products and personalised medicine.

This blog post is an edited version of a longer article published by Smart Futures on the medical technology sector. Thanks to Discover Science & Engineering for permission to use this material.

Can blogging help you get a job?


Apart from filling out job applications, one way a recent graduate can occupy their time is by starting a blog. These don’t cost anything to set up and can be enormously fun to write. But will they help you get a job? The answer is that it depends.

It is unlikely that you will get an interview or a job solely on the strength of your blog. But, like other extra-curricular activities, it is the kind of thing that may tip the balance in your favour in a close race. A recruiter may not necessarily find your blog by doing a web search for your name but if you are confident in what you write, it might be a good idea to direct them to it.

A blog about the industry you intend to work in will, of course, be more worthwhile to the job hunter than a personal blog. It shows that you are passionate about the sector and that you keep up to date with industry trends.

‘Dead’ blogs look very poor, so you should make sure that you frequently update yours. Even if it fails to get much traffic, it will still highlight skills you possess such as work rate and commitment. You should also be careful with your spelling and grammar and keep your language professional.

Attempt to publicise your blog through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. By managing to find an audience, you will demonstrate that you are able to effectively market yourself. This skill, together with others like commercial awareness, is sought after in far more occupations than marketing these days.

In conclusion, while blogging might not get you a job on its own, there is no harm in starting one. And in a close race, it just might tip the balance in your favour.

For more tips on job hunting after graduation see gradireland.com.