Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education & Skills Thomas Byrne has said that assurances must be secured for third level students to ensure that they will be able to continue to study without seeing increased fees or residency issues as a result of the Brexit vote.
The outcome of the referendum could have a major impact on Irish students in Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as British and Northern Irish students in the Republic, who up until now have been able to study in both jurisdictions under EU rules.
Deputy Byrne commented, “The result of yesterday’s referendum is deeply disappointing and complicates the position of Irish students studying in Britain and Northern Ireland as well as British and Northern Irish students studying in the Republic.
“I want to make it clear to these students that they have no immediate reason to be fearful about their university courses, as we expect no change in their ‘EU student’ status for at least a year. At the moment, students from Ireland, Britain and Northern Ireland are entitled to pursue their third level education in any of these jurisdictions as they are EU citizens.
“However, the result of the Brexit vote and the proposed move by Britain to leave the EU could see Irish students having to pay very costly non-EU fees to study in Britain and Northern Ireland. Similarly, students from Britain and Northern Ireland will have to pay non-EU fees to study in Irish universities and ITs.
“Much will now depend on the negotiations around Britain’s exit from the EU. We need to ensure that existing students will be able to continue their studies, and make provisions so that the current third level options for students in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain remain open to them.
“We need clarification on any new residency arrangements which may be required for students who have already begun courses, which are not due to be completed until after the proposed two year negotiation timeframe.
“Given the large number of students that will be affected by this Brexit vote it is essential that this issue is given priority during the negotiations which will take place between Ireland, Britain and the EU in the weeks, months and years to come”.