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Information for Students

At present, students from the UK and Northern Ireland planning to begin third level studies in the Republic in the academic year 2019-20 have a guarantee about their fee status. Fees will not change for the duration of their undergraduate studies if they start in the 2019-20 academic year.

There are signs that fee certainty will be extended indefinitely. In a debate on Tuesday 5th March 2019, Education Minister Joe 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. See Irish Independent article for further information

There appears to be a commitment given by the UK Minister for Universities to seek to maintain free mobility of third-level staff and students through a Brexit transition period. We expect further changes to the immigration system (from the end of the transition period) but there are currently no details on how this might affect international/EU students (and their family members).

Under existing rules, all EU students are treated the same as a national from the country in which they are studying. Depending upon the terms of Brexit and whether an alternative arrangement emerges, there are several implications.

If an EEA-type arrangement emerges, UK students coming to Ireland or Irish going to the UK will probably continue as are and vice versa. However, if a “hard”-Brexit emerges, then Irish students could be treated as international students; students studying in either jurisdiction may be classed as non-EU students and may be charged non-EU Fees. EU postgraduate students already pay fees.

Changes in residency requirements, and ability to access EU-level tuition fees or the UK student loan scheme, or to avail of each jurisdiction’s student support programmes (e.g. disability) are likely to be factors in future but no decisions have been taken in this area yet.

Student Assistance Fund (SAF)

The Irish government operates a Student Assistance Fund which may be of some use to students from the UK studying in Trinity. Support under the SAF is only available to students studying in participating institutions in the Republic. The only criterion is that the student must be doing a fulltime course and attending on a fulltime basis. There is no residency or nationality criteria that must be met to receive support under the Fund, but note the following from the SAF guidelines:

Each institution is requested to supplement their SAF allocation from their own resources (e.g. Non-EU fee income) or from private sources. In particular, the HEA requests that institutions with significant numbers of international students ring-fence a small fund from Non-EU fee income to provide for any emergency financial requirements arising for international students. More broadly, student welfare initiatives are very appropriate areas for funding contributions from the corporate sector and alumni.

While this may happen it is far from certain. Given that the UK represents almost 45% of EU students in Ireland, this could throw a significant number of current students into financial difficulty (if UK students are charged non- EU Fees).

Student Assistance Fund (SAF)

Support under the SAF is only available to students studying in participating institutions in the state. The only criterion is that the student must be doing a fulltime course and attending on a fulltime basis. There is no residency or nationality criteria that must be met to receive support under the Fund, but note the following from the SAF guidelines:

Each institution is requested to supplement their SAF allocation from their own resources (e.g. Non-EU fee income) or from private sources. In particular, the HEA requests that institutions with significant numbers of international students ring-fence a small fund from Non-EU fee income to provide for any emergency financial requirements arising for international students. More broadly, student welfare initiatives are very appropriate areas for funding contributions from the corporate sector and alumni.

Student Disabilities Fund (FSD)

Support is available under the Fund for Students with Disabilities for students from Ireland who travel to study in Northern Ireland and in the rest of the UK. In terms of eligibility for the FSD, a student must be a participant on an approved course, understood as a course approved for the purposes of the SUSI grant. The SUSI regulations treat Northern Ireland separately in that full-time postgraduate students, as well as undergraduates may be eligible for support. In other EU countries, students on undergraduate courses only are eligible. England, Scotland and Wales are treated as “Other EU” countries for the purpose of the FSD.

If the UK formally leaves the EU, Irish students going to the UK and possibly also NI, may cease to be eligible for support under the FSD unless an alternative arrangement is put in places.

Erasmus+ programme

The Erasmus+ UK National Agency updated its statement on 30 October 2018 confirming that it remains wholly committed to the Erasmus+ programme. Based on statements made by the UK Government and the National Agency, it is expected that the Erasmus+ programme to be available for years abroad taking place in academic years up to and including the academic year 2019/20.

Trinity does not yet know whether access to the Erasmus+ programme will be available for years abroad taking place in academic years after 2019/20, as this depends on the negotiations governing the UK’s exit from membership of the EU.