Some thousand Irish students apply to the British Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) system for places in UK universities each year.
Over 8,000 students from the Republic of Ireland applied to UCAS last year (2010), and figures published last November showed that 3,015 of these applicants accepted offers in UK universities. This was an increase of 5.6% on the 2009 figure of 2,856 acceptances.
Provisional figures for applications to UCAS by December 20th 2010 show that 2,352 people from the Republic of Ireland have applied so far to UCAS. This is a decrease of 5.7% on the figures at the same time in 2009.
Tuition fees are already charged for most courses in UK universities, although loans are advanced to students, so people do not usually have to pay any fees upfront before going to university or while studying.
Most people will be aware of the recent hugely unpopular decision of the British coalition government to increase tuition fees in English universities.
The maximum tuition fees in the UK for 2010/11 were £3,290 sterling, but the proposed increases in 2012 means that English universities may charge £6,000 a year, with some universities permitted to charge as high as £9,000 a year under exceptional circumstances.
The new charges and repayment arrangements only apply to new students from September 2012. Students starting courses in 2011 will pay tuition fees of £3,375 per year.
Under the proposed new structures, graduates will be expected to pay back their loans after graduation when they start earning over a minimum threshold of £21,000 sterling.
The annual normal closing date for application to UCAS is January 15. UCAS operates an earlier closing date for applications to medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and veterinary medicine and for any course in the University of Oxford and Cambridge University – applicants interested in those courses must have applied three months earlier, by October 15 last.
Application to UCAS should be made online at Apply, the application system on the website of UCAS, www.ucas.co.uk This website is a huge source of information on all aspects of college application.
Each UCAS 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.
When UCAS receives an application, a copy goes to each of the institutions chosen by the applicant. Each institution considers the application and makes a decision on it.
All decisions are forwarded to UCAS, who forward them to the applicant.
Universities and other colleges usually convey their decisions through UCAS to applicants towards the end of March.