Friday 18 October 2019

Brexit threatens Trinity mission to be university 'for all Ireland'

Mission: Chris Morash wants to attract students from the North. Picture: Maxwells
Mission: Chris Morash wants to attract students from the North. Picture: Maxwells
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Brexit is threatening Trinity College Dublin's historic mission to be "a university for the whole island of Ireland".

Since it opened 426 years ago, Trinity has been proud of bringing different traditions, north and south, together.

However, the uncertainty caused by Brexit has already taken a big toll on CAO applications from the North this year, which are down 20pc.

And there are fears numbers will fall even further if Britain's departure from the EU goes ahead.

Prof Chris Morash, the vice-provost of Trinity, said the drop was largely attributable to uncertainty regarding fee status and other issues post-Brexit. The university is now redoubling its efforts.

He said: "While political uncertainties play out, we will continue to expand our engagement with alumni, schools and guidance counsellors in Northern Ireland to ensure that students there see Trinity as an attractive and welcoming option for their university education.

"This is central to Trinity's mission to be a university for the whole island of Ireland."

Brexit emerged as Trinity was slowly recovering from a steady dip in demand from Northern Ireland, which was attributed to the entrance criteria for A-level applicants.

In 2013-14, Trinity responded with initiatives including a relaxation of entrance criteria and launched its Northern Ireland Engagement Programme, reconnecting with schools, parents, teachers and alumni across the six counties.

The target was to triple its intake of students from the North to 300 a year - about 8pc of freshers.

Trinity was seeing the benefits of the strategy before the Brexit emerged.

Between 2014 and 2017, cross-Border applications rose from 601 to 958.

But this year saw a 20pc decline in demand, down to 763. There was also an 11pc fall off, down to 552, from Britain.

Irish Independent

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