More students from UK seeking Irish college places


WITH THIRD-LEVEL fees in England on the rise, increasing numbers of students from the UK are applying for places in Irish colleges.

According to CAO figures, there has been an 11 per cent increase in applications from the UK in comparison with the same time last year.

The jump comes after Westminster passed legislation that increased the amount a university or college could charge new undergraduate students in tuition fees.

Currently set at €3,783 (£3,290) a year, that will rise to €3,881 (£3,375) next September.

In 2012, fees will be €6,700 (£6,000) and could be as high as €10,349 (£9,000) a year for specialist courses.

The legislation sparked huge demonstrations in England last November.

Some disenchanted students now appear to be looking to Ireland for their solution, where they do not pay tuition fees.

It is a right citizens from any of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries (EU states, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland can avail of.

Therefore, a British citizen studying an undergraduate course in Ireland next September would pay a €2,000 (£1,740) student services charge, the same as their Irish classmates and almost half the cost of education in England.

Amy Lee Fowler, a second year medical student in NUI Galway, is from Derby, England, and said it would soon become more cost effective for her to be in Ireland than it would be to study at home.

“Everybody I have spoken to at home about it, unless they are really well off, are devastated,” she said.

“When the increased fees come in I think you are going to see a lot of people who want to come over here instead of paying £9,000 for uni.”

The economic appeal of Irish universities has been increased by the Scottish parliament’s move (which is aimed at protecting the position of Scots) to charge English students studying there.

In European law, an exception is made for British universities, whereby the right to a fees waiver is dependent on being a non-UK EEA (or Swiss) citizen.

Scottish universities can, therefore, charge English students a foreign student fee while continuing to not charge native students, an option that Irish institutions do not have.

As there is no cap on how many EU students that Irish universities admit, the increased number of applications is likely to lead to a similar increase in actual numbers who attend.

For 2010, the CAO had received 1,321 applications from Britain and Northern Ireland as of February 1st.

This year that figure has increased to 1,471.

The average higher education student costs the Irish State €10,000 to fund, with €2,000 of that coming from the student as of September 2011.


Cost of undergraduate study in England for first-time students

2010/2011 – €3,783 (£3,290)

2011/2012 – €3,881 (£3,375) 2012/2013 – €6,700 (£6,000)

Cost of undergraduate study in Republic for first-time students

2010/2011 – €1,500 (£1,300)

2011/2012 – €2,000 (£1,740)

2012/2013 – €2,000 (£1,740)