Irish students will ‘not lose out’ over providing university places for Ukrainians

New arrivals will have access to same supports and grants available to Irish students

Irish students will “not lose out” as a result of moves to accommodate Ukrainian students in the higher education system.

Central Applications Office (CAO) points are set to rise this year due to high application numbers and grade inflation linked to adjustments to this year's Leaving Cert exams.

Universities have pledged to provide places for an estimated 46 Irish students who had to leave Ukraine in the middle of their studies. The majority of these students were studying medicine or dentistry.

In addition, Ukrainian students coming to Ireland will have access to free tuition fees and grants that are available to Irish and EU students.

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said any additional college places for returning Irish students or Ukrainians will use up any set aside for college entry in the coming academic year.

In addition, she said the Minister expects to be in a position to announce a “significant increase” in medicine places shortly.

Government and higher education sources say it is difficult to estimate how many Ukrainian students may need university places.

Most agree that the main burden is likely to fall on the primary and secondary education system.

Language supports

A bigger focus for the further and higher education system is ensuring new arrivals can access English language supports.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU ministers on Wednesday, Mr Harris said the Government will ensure Ukrainian students can continue their studies and have access to English language classes to be rolled out by Education and Training Boards.

"I share the view of the Taoiseach that the strength in responding to this horrific situation in Ukraine is when Europe acts together," he said.

“ That is why I sought an extraordinary meeting of European ministers on education this week to discuss how we can work across the EU to support students from Ukraine.

“We already have mechanisms in place to support student mobility within the EU and to provide financial assistance to students. I believe we should explore if these mechanisms can be extended to students from Ukraine.”

In the meantime, Mr Harris said his immediate priority is ensuring Irish students who have fled Ukraine can continue their studies here.

“My Department has contacted them all and they are deeply traumatised by what has unfolded. We will work to extend supports and care to them,” he said.

"The Irish Universities Association has confirmed they will provide places necessary and we look forward to working with them on that. We will also work collectively to ensure Ukrainian people can access higher education here too."

“I will continue to engage with colleagues across the sector to ensure we can offer an effective response to the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetime.”

Exchange

The Irish Universities Association earlier this week announced that its member universities have suspended the exchange of students, researchers and scientific personnel with Russia.

In addition, financial transactions have ceased and there has been a halt to the exchange of research material, which comply in full with all EU sanctions.

“Our universities will continue to review the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine to ensure that we continue to support the people of Ukraine in their time of need,” university presidents said, in a joint statement.