Irish students planning to start university in the UK in the coming academic year will not face a hike in fees regardless of whether there is a hard Brexit, according to Government ministers.
There have been concerns that the UK’s exit from the EU could lead to Irish students facing a dramatic increase in undergraduate fees by being treated as international students, who pay annual fees of up to £35,000 (€38,990).
However, UK ministers have pledged to maintain existing fee structures for Irish students wishing to pursue higher education courses in the UK in the 2019/2020 academic year.
These fees vary across the UK but are typically up to £9,250 (€10,300) in England or £4,275 (€4,762) in the North.
Minister for Education Joe McHugh has also confirmed that Irish students who wish to enrol in UK third level institutions will continue to be able to avail of grant support from Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi).
Similarly, UK students who enrol for eligible courses in the Republic will continue to be charged on the same basis – a €3,000 registration charge – and avail of student grants.
Mr McHugh said this arrangement will continue for the duration of students’ studies. “I am pleased to be able to announce this decision at this time. It provides certainty for prospective students applying before the CAO closing date of February 1st,” Mr McHugh said.
He said, in particular, it will give certainty to cross-border students who are applying for courses in September.
About 1,200 students from the North attend colleges in the Republic, while more than 2,000 students from the Republic attend colleges in Northern Ireland.
“If you are in the North or the south, or thinking about going that bit further afield to Britain, this will give the reassurance before you send off your application,” the Minister said.
Mr McHugh said these fee arrangements will be reviewed next year in advance of the 2020/21 academic year.
Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who has responsibility for higher education, said officials were working on amendments to the Student Support Act 2011 to ensure that eligible Irish and UK students continue to receive grant supports for the 2019/20 academic year.
In recent months, UK ministers have pledged to maintain existing fee structure for 2019-2020 for Irish students wishing to pursue higher education in the UK.
All devolved administrations – England, Scotland and Wales – have issued statements confirming the continued application of the EU fee regimes for EU citizens for 2019-2020. In the case of Northern Ireland, as there is no devolved administration, there is a commitment from the UK’s department of the economy – which has responsibility for higher education – to maintain the existing status.