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UK and Ireland to keep education access after Brexit

Table: Queen’s University
Table: Queen’s University

By Katherine Donnelly

The British and Irish Governments are working to protect existing arrangements between the two countries in the areas of higher education and research after Brexit.

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Earlier this month UK Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds visited Dublin to reinforce the close relationship between the two countries.

He met Irish Education Minister Richard Bruton and both reiterated their commitment to maintaining the common travel area, which, amongst other things, ensures reciprocal rights to access education at all levels for Irish and British citizens in each other's countries.

They agreed their officials will work together to ensure this access will be maintained and also discussed broader education cooperation.

This would allow Irish students in the UK to continue to be treated as domestic, as opposed to international, students. They would continue to pay standard fees and have access to its student loans system.

Similarly, UK students in the Republic would be considered EU students.

There are about 10,000 students from the Republic in England, Scotland and Wales, and about 2,000 in Northern Ireland - important outlets for Irish students, many of whom go because they cannot access a preferred course at home.

However, uncertainty around Brexit is blamed for a recent drop in applications, and there has also been a fall in demand from UK students seeking to study in the Republic.

While there is optimism about maintaining existing arrangements for students, there is much uncertainty about how Brexit will affect valuable EU-funded research collaborations between Ireland and the UK.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's two universities feature in this year's Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Queen's University comes in at No 38 in the overall UK league table, the same position it held last year.

Ulster University is ranked 60th overall, up from 73rd position last year.

The Open University also operates here, but is not included in the Sunday Times rankings.

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