Ask Brian: Will Brexit affect my UK college plans next year?
Changes are unlikely in the coming year, but beyond that it is hard to say
Brexit is unlikely to adversely affect the study plans of students in both Ireland and the UK who wish to commence studies outside their home country in 2017. Image: Getty
Question: I recently attended the Irish Times Higher Options event in the RDS, with the intension of clarifying the option of studying in the UK next year. Some representatives from UK colleges were reassuring and encouraged me to apply, but nobody could definitively say what the situation will be for Irish students if they opt for a university in the UK or Northern Ireland in the 2017 academic year. Can you clarify the situation?
Answer: Current and future Irish students are obviously concerned about various possible consequences of Brexit – the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, there are, as yet, no changes to the residency rules which affect Irish and other EU students’ right to come and stay in the UK – although clearly there could be consequences over the longer term.
The right to reside, study and work in the UK remains as long as the UK remains a member state of the EU which, while there is no firm timeframe, will be for at least another two years after Article 50 of the EU treaty is invoked by the British government.
According to the UK council, a number of universities are guaranteeing that fees will not be reassessed during the duration of the course for those starting in 2016-2017; even if the UK leaves the EU before their courses end, they will continue to be charged the home/EU rate rather than the significantly higher non-EU rate.
All prospective Irish and other EU students should contact the university they are planning to apply to in order to confirm its policy with regard to fees for 2017-2018.
There is clearly an intention and commitment from UK and Northern Ireland universities to do whatever is in their power to enable as many EU students as possible to continue to study in the UK.
The funding bodies in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have sought to reassure EU nationals about continuing student finance eligibility. Those who commenced university study on an eligible course this autumn are eligible for student finance in the normal way.
There has been no announcement on eligibility for student finance for those planning to commence study in 2017, but authorities have indicated that students who secure places in UK and Northern Ireland universities in 2017 will secure the same terms as those who have just commenced their studies.
The Irish Universities Association issued a statement during the summer reassuring all UK students currently enrolled in an Irish university that they will continue to enjoy the same conditions as other EU students regarding fees and contributions, for the duration of their degree.
Given the statements from both jurisdictions, I am firmly of the belief that Brexit will not adversely affect the study plans of students in both Ireland and the UK who wish to commence studies outside their home country in 2017, and for the duration of their studies afterwards.