The Irish Government has confirmed it will continue supporting students applying to universities in the United Kingdom as well as Northern Ireland pupils wishing to study in the Republic after Brexit.
Pupils from Northern Ireland expressed concern over whether they will be treated as non-EU students after the UK leaves the European Union in March, meaning they would have to pay much higher fees.
Ireland’s Minister for Education Joe McHugh has clarified the government’s position saying that it will continue to support university students planning to study in the UK and for UK nationals wishing to attend colleges in Ireland.
It means that eligible Irish and EU nationals, who want to study in the UK for the 2019/20 academic year, will be able to avail of SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) grants.
UK students who enrol for the 2019/20 academic year will be eligible for free fees and student grant schemes.
This includes the student contribution fee for Irish and EU citizens which currently stands at €3,000 for the 2018/19 academic year.
This means that the student grant and tuition fee arrangements currently in place will continue to apply for those students entering higher education in the 2019/2020 academic year.
The Irish government said it will review its position before the 2020/2021 academic year.
Mr McHugh said: “I am pleased to be able to announce this decision at this time.
“It provides certainty for prospective students applying before the CAO (Central Applications Office) closing date of 1 February.
“I continue to work closely with my colleague (Foreign Affairs Minister) Simon Coveney, to bring longer term clarity for both Irish students wishing to study in the UK and UK nationals wishing to take up studies in Ireland.
“It is vital that both Ireland and the UK continue to build on the strong and valuable co-operation which currently exists.”
There are currently 10,070 Irish students studying in the UK, while 1,319 Northern Ireland students attend universities in the Republic at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Over 1,100 students from the rest of the UK study in the Republic
Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “I am delighted to be able to provide certainty for prospective students applying for college places in Ireland and the UK.
“In accordance with the commitments given in the government’s Contingency Action Plan for Brexit, my officials are working on amendments to the Student Support Act 2011.
“These amendments will ensure that eligible Irish and UK students continue to receive grant supports for the 2019/20 academic year.”