Wednesday 21 March 2018

Students considering UK universities warned fees may rise in wake of Brexit

Caution: Anne Hoey of the USI Picture: Frank Mc Grath
Caution: Anne Hoey of the USI Picture: Frank Mc Grath
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Leaving Cert students who are due to take up college places are being warned of increased student fees as a direct consequence of the UK's decision to leave the EU.

Irish students already in the UK and with more than two years left to run on their degrees are also being warned that the hikes could affect the latter stages of their courses.

Students from the Republic attending universities in Northern Ireland and the UK currently pay the same fees as British students.

However, these costs are likely to rise as UK universities move to plug a funding hole caused by foreign students taking up courses elsewhere in the EU on the back of the Brexit vote.

Thousands of Irish students taking part in Erasmus and overseas-study programmes receive EU grants and support to study in other EU member states. Those looking to study outside of the EU do not receive the same support and these grants for Irish students in the UK are now likely to be cut.

Read More: 'UK vote has thrown my education plans into total disarray'

The International Exchange Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is warning students who will be in UK universities beyond 2017 that they should expect changes to regulations and to their entitlements.

"The future conditions for international students wanting to study in the UK and British students wanting to study in Europe are as of yet unknown and will have to be decided during the negotiation phase," said a spokesperson.

"This process will probably take up to two years, if not longer, meaning that those undergoing a programme that extends to 2018 may be the first to experience new regulations."

The impact will be hardest felt in the border region, where many students from counties such as Donegal, Cavan and Louth study in nearby universities in Northern Ireland.

The Union of Students in Ireland's president, Annie Hoey, advised students to remain cautious if considering the UK.

"If you are applying to institutions and filling out the equivalent of CAOs to go to the UK, it is going to be very important that students ask questions of institutions. If the institutions are not letting an Irish student know what will happen because of Brexit, I would urge caution in terms of choosing that institution.

"I think students will have to be mindful that things will change over the next few years and their time at an institution.

"This may have a negative effect on their ability to perhaps come home to work or even use the degree they get in the UK."

Some UK universities are already contacting students due to take up courses in September to reassure them that their circumstances will not change.

However, many are stopping short of making any promises for students who take up courses after 2016. There are 125,000 students from the EU in higher education in Britain and more than 2,000 of these are Irish.

The University of Cambridge has said Irish students there will continue to pay the same fees for the next two years but rates for 2018 have yet to be set.

Irish Independent

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