Tuesday 22 October 2019

Minister to be quizzed over impact of no deal on education and skills

Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Frank McGrath
Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Frank McGrath
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Education Minister Joe McHugh will discuss the impact of Brexit on his sector at an Oireachtas hearing today.

The Education Committee will focus particularly on what would happen in the event of a no-deal scenario when the UK exits the European Union on March 29.

With or without a deal, the Government is relying on the maintenance of the long-standing common travel area (CTA) between Ireland and the UK to underpin the continuation of many existing arrangements in the area of education.

Among other things, the CTA, which pre-dates the EU, ensures reciprocal rights to access education at all levels for Irish and British citizens in each other's countries.

Mr McHugh has already announced that Brexit will not affect grants for Irish students in the UK next year or for UK students in the Republic.

The move will require amendments to the Student Support Act 2011 and is one of the areas covered in a list of proposed no-deal Brexit-related laws in the General Scheme of the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill 2019, that was recently published by the Government.

The minister has also made a commitment that UK students enrolling in a third-level college in the Republic will be recognised for the 'free fees' scheme, which currently involves a student contribution of €3,000 a year.

Existing fee arrangements for Irish students in the UK - where they are treated as domestic students - are also expected to continue.

The alternative would see students from both jurisdictions deemed to be "international" students in each other's countries and liable for much higher fees.

Committee chair Fiona O'Loughlin said it was "eager to examine the issues facing us in relation to Brexit, and its impact on education and skills across the country".

Members of the committee will also quiz the minister about his forthcoming Statement of Strategy 2019-2021, which will outline Department of Education priorities for the next two to three years.

Irish Independent

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