Since Brexit became a reality, the number of UK students applying to study in Ireland through the CAO has dropped by 10%.
Similarly, the number of Irish students applying to the UK UCAS system has dropped by 18% from 2016.
However, the number of CAO applications coming from Northern Ireland increased by 2%.
According to the Irish Times, uncertainty around a potential future rise in college fees for UK students travelling to Ireland to study and vice versa has led to a drop in applications. If no agreement is put in place between the EU and the UK, British and Irish students could be faced with paying non-EU student fees when moving to study in Ireland or the UK. Non-EU or ‘international student’ fees range from €18,000 to €23,000 for most courses, and €45,000 to €52,000 for clinical degrees like medicine. Currently any student in the EU can move to study in another country in the European Union and pay the same fees as they would in their home country.
The Irish Department of Education has said that they cannot enter into separate bilateral negotiations with the UK or Northern Irish governments to arrange a specific deal for Irish and British students, and the issue will have to be agreed on an EU level with all 28 states involved.
Department officials stated there is “concern” over potentially losing the current level of student mobility between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK. Both Ireland and Britain have agreed that any student who travels between the countries to study this September will pay the current EU fee rates for the duration of their degree. Latest figures from the Department of Education show there are 2,812 UK students studying in Irish colleges, including Northern Irish students.
The Irish Universities Association (IUA) have also said there is “a real concern that Brexit will lead to a decrease in student flows between Ireland and the various parts of the UK”. Lewis Purser, IUA director of academic affairs said that “Irish universities are comforted by the prominence given to maintaining the Common Travel Area in the comments of both UK and EU parties so far”. The group, who represent the seven Irish universities, said they “hope that this will also include the right not just to travel but also to study, under conditions which do not differ from those in force today”.
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