Irish students in UK could face hike in fees after Brexit vote

Trinity College Dublin says vote will have long-term impact on Irish universities

Trinity College Dublin has  warned that the vote will have ‘a long-term impact on universities in the Republic of Ireland’. Photograph:  Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Trinity College Dublin has warned that the vote will have ‘a long-term impact on universities in the Republic of Ireland’. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

There are fears that thousands of Irish students who study in the UK and Northern Ireland could face costly non-EU fees as result of the Brexit vote.

Up until now, Irish students in Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as British and Northern Irish students in the Republic, have been able to study in both jurisdictions under EU rules.

However, Fianna Fail’s education spokesman Thomas Byrne has called for assurances that third level students will be able to continue studying without financial or residency issues.

While he said students had no immediate reason to be fearful about their university courses or their “EU student” status for at least a year, there was uncertainty beyond this point.

“The result of the Brexit vote and the proposed move by Britain to leave the EU could see Irish students having to pay very costly non-EU fees to study in Britain and Northern Ireland,” Mr Byrne said.

“Similarly, students from Britain and Northern Ireland will have to pay non-EU fees to study in Irish universities and ITs.”

He said much now depended on the negotiations around Britain’s exit from the EU.

“We need to ensure that existing students will be able to continue their studies, and make provisions so that the current third level options for students in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain remain open to them,” he said.

Trinity College Dublin has also warned that the vote will have “a long-term impact on universities in the Republic of Ireland” and could hinder the long tradition of students moving between the islands as well as important research activity.

Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said the decision to leave the EU is unlikely to have an immediate impact on students or research in Ireland or Britain.

However, he said mechanisms were needed to enable students from the UK to study in Ireland and students from the Republic to continue to study in the UK.

“Trinity has always considered itself a university for the island of Ireland. The issue of fees for students from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK should not be allowed to become a problem that will hinder students from studying in the Republic,” he said.

“It is equally important for the future of scholarship and research that some mechanism is found to ensure the UK’s decision to leave the EU does not harm research collaboration between universities here and in Britain.”

The UK is the most popular destination for Irish graduates to emigrate, with one in twelve Irish graduates pursuing work opportunities in the UK.

The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) warned that Brexit will affect these graduates, and students who want to do undergraduates, postgraduates or the erasmus programmes in the UK.

“The outcome of the Brexit referendum is incredibly disappointing,” said Kevin Donoghue, USI president.

“Not only for the future of Britain, but also for the future of Ireland. More than eight per cent of Irish graduates pursue work opportunities in the UK, and Brexit will affect them, as well as the students who wish to study their undergraduates or postgraduates in the UK, or do the erasmus exchange programme there.”

He said tighter border controls and more complicated visa processes would deter young people from emigrating to the UK for job prospects, education or travel opportunities.