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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+ 2021-2027

The UK has chosen not to participate in Erasmus and have launched their own scheme (Alan Turing Scheme) - outbound only, starting Sept 2021.  The scheme has been designed to enable UK students from schools, vocational and education training providers, and higher education institutions to undergo an educational mobility across the world.  £110m has been allocated for the first year and the scheme will facilitate approximately 35,000 UK outward mobilities.  More details of the scheme are available www.turing-scheme.org.uk/.

The Turing Scheme is not an exchange scheme, it funds outbound mobility from the UK only and will only apply to students in the UK’s educational system.  It won’t  fund staff training visits to other EU universities.

Wales have announced that they're setting up their own scheme and Scotland have indicated they may follow that lead. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-56469835 but no further information is available at this time.

Unlike the rest of the countries in the UK, Students from Northern Ireland (NI) colleges will continue to be able to study in Europe under Erasmus+ as the Irish government will fund them – they will need to be temporarily registered with Irish HEI. Full details are yet to be disclosed.  In any regard the NI universities have postponed any potential future reliance on Irish universities for at least one year until post May 2022. For now they have enough budget remaining under the previous Erasmus allocations. (see also below)

Under the terms of the just concluded Erasmus Programme (2014-2020), UK Universities should in fact be able to use their Erasmus funding secured for mobility in the academic year 2021-2022, in the same way as Trinity can and hence the Turing Scheme may not be called upon to replace Erasmus partnerships in 2021-2022.  Specifically, for Erasmus+ mobility, any exchanges taking place up until May 31st 2022 can still be funded. However, whilst UK and EU students will have to deal with new immigration regulations, thanks to provisions in the Common Travel Area agreement Ireland has with the UK, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services.

After that period, under the terms of the new Erasmus Programme, due to start shortly, UK will not be a programme country but rather will be categorised as a International/partner country.  There is a greater focus on international mobility in the new programme and as such Trinity could utilise some of this funding to maintain the funding of our outbound students to the UK with the UK utilising the Turing scheme to enable reciprocity. 

To discuss existing Erasmus Institutional Partnerships with UK Universities, please contact the Erasmus and European Partnerships Manager: Brendan.Tighe@tcd.ie.