Government gives UK students commitment on paying Irish fees
The Government is giving a long-term commitment that, after Brexit, UK students studying in the Republic will continue to be treated as if they were in the EU and will not have to pay higher fees.
Until now, the guarantee extended only to students from Northern Ireland and Britain starting a third-level course in the Republic in September 2019, with a promise of review in the context of a wider Brexit agreement.
But Education Minister Joe McHugh has provided greater certainty by backing a Fianna Fáil amendment to the Government's Brexit Omnibus Bill to extend the commitment beyond 2019.
During a Dáil debate on Tuesday night, Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Thomas Byrne said it was important, so that UK pupils in the equivalent of transition year or fifth year and considering their futures would not be put off coming to Ireland.
Uncertainty caused by Brexit is already blamed for a fall-off in UK students coming to Ireland, an issue that is causing particular concern to Trinity College Dublin, which has a historic mission to be "a university for the whole island of Ireland".
However, the legislative underpinning may end up as a "backstop" of sorts, as Mr McHugh confirmed to the Dáil that the Department of Education and its UK counterpart have reached agreement on the education side of the Common Travel Area (CTA), a long-standing "open border" deal that gives reciprocal rights to education and other services for Irish and British citizens in each other's countries, which is being refreshed in the context of Brexit.