My Department has confirmed that any eligible Northern Irish/UK students who enrol for eligible courses for the current 2019/20 academic year in a third level college recognised for the purposes of free fees and student grant purposes will be eligible to avail of the Department’s Free Fee and Student Grant Schemes. This includes the student contribution fee for Irish and EU citizens which currently stands at €3,000 for the 2018/19 academic year.
This is in line with assurances given in previous years. I want to make clear my determination that co-operation and collaboration between the education systems on this island should not be maintained but strengthened between education institutions. I am also anxious that this extends on an East-West basis. Facilitating student mobility is a key dimension of this process. It is my intention that students from Northern Ireland will maintain access to EU fees status post Brexit. This is currently being addressed in the context of the Common Travel Area (CTA). In May 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding on the CTA was signed between my colleague, An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D. and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington MP in May 2019. It stated that Irish and British citizens will maintain the right to access all levels of education and training, and associated student support, in each other’s state, on terms no less favourable than those for the citizens of that state.
My Department is currently finalising arrangements with the Department for Education in London, which will elaborate on this principle. I hope to be make an announcement in this regard in the near future, and I know that it will bring the required clarity for Northern Irish students and their families.