UCD President Andrew Deeks has said the college will act to “minimise” any potential rise in tuition fees for British or Northern Irish students looking to study in UCD after Britain leaves the EU.
The college President has said he can currently only commit to promising that the UK’s vote will not “impact on the fee status of any student from the UK currently enrolled in the University.”
But in regards to future students coming from Britain or NI to study in UCD President Deeks said the college would look into what actions they could take to offset potential rises in fees or other concerns.
In a statement to staff President Deeks said that “the impact on students from Northern Ireland and Great Britain who wish to attend UCD will be minimised, and we will put appropriate policies in place once the situation becomes clearer.”
The promise comes after the British vote in late June to leave the European Union by 52% to 48%. It is believed Britain will begin the process of detaching itself from the complicated nexus of EU membership in this autumn, and is expected to take a number of years. Rising fees is one possible consequence of that vote for future students looking to move between the UK and Ireland to study, who could see fee increases of €10,000 on current rates.
In the current setup EU students can travel to study anywhere within the EU and pay the same rates as home students in that country. So at the moment Irish students can study in Scotland and avail of their free fees system, or Northern Ireland and pay £3,925 per year. England and Wales operate under a loan scheme at £9,000 a year to be paid off later, for both home and other EU students.
But when Britain does leave the European Union Irish students could be forced to apply to study there as international students and be looking at fees between £10,000–£20,000 a year.
The same would apply to any British or Northern Irish students travelling to colleges in the Republic of Ireland, where unless some special arrangement is reached they would have to pay €10,000 – €16,500 a year.
Lucy Connor, a scholar student from Northern Ireland studying politics in UCD said that a potential rise in fees would “discourage Northerners coming to the South.” She said, “I feel that this would be extremely damaging for North/South relations in terms of both students studying in the south and subsequently getting jobs in the south.”
Sources in the UCD administration would not be drawn on whether the college would be in a financial position to directly subsidise the fees for UK or NI students, in a situation where the Irish government did not commit to doing so.
Speaking generally on the Brexit result the college President said that “the unexpected vote by the UK to leave the EU is personally disappointing to me, and clearly creates a variety of concerns for us.”
Jack Power, Editor