Thousands of Irish students usually apply to the British Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) system for places in UK universities each year, and a couple of thousand are offered and accept places.
A total of 2,008 applicants from the Republic accepted places through UCAS in 2012, down 14pc from the 2011 figure of 2,336. The breakdown was as follows: 1,058 accepted places in universities in England, 145 in Wales; 393 in Scotland; and 412 in Northern Ireland.
Increases in tuition fees in the UK for 2012/2013 mean that English universities now charge from £6,000 to £9,000 a year depending on the university.
Students do not pay fees upfront. Under the new structures, graduates are expected to pay back their loans after graduation when they start earning over a minimum of £21,000.
Universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland did not introduce exactly the same fees increase for their own students. Practices differ between them. In Northern Ireland, the maximum fee for students from NI and from the Republic of Ireland starting a degree course in 2013/14 is £3,575.
Closing date for application
The normal closing date for application to UCAS is January 15.
There is a closing date of March 24 for art and design courses except those listed with a January 15 deadline.
Application to UCAS should be made online at Apply, the application system on the website, www.ucas.co.uk .
Each applicant may apply to up to five different courses/institutions, but only four of those applications can be to medicine, dentistry, or veterinary medicine/science, or only one course at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge (and those applications must have been received by October 15 last).
When UCAS receives an application, a copy goes to each of the institutions chosen by the applicant. Universities usually convey their decisions through UCAS to applicants in the spring
An applicant may receive an unconditional offer, (if they have already taken their school leaving exams and met the academic requirements of the course), a conditional offer (on their meeting the grades specified when they sit their exams), or their application may be unsuccessful.