The results of a survey carried out by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) suggest that 79% of Irish students believe that Brexit is a threat to peace in Northern Ireland.
The survey was completed by students on both sides of the border, with 19% of its respondents currently studying in Northern Ireland and the remaining 81% of respondents studying in the Republic of Ireland.
The overwhelming majority of those who answered the survey, a total of 82.5%, indicated that they believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on the island of Ireland. Only 7% said they thought it would have a positive impact, while 6% said that it would have little impact and 4.5% of respondents saying they didn’t know.
The Irish border has been a contentious issue during the Brexit negotiations, as the only land border between the UK and the European Union.
Both sides have been keen to avoid customs checks that would necessitate infrastructure being erected on the border, something that would be unacceptable to many within the nationalist community. However, the UK has insisted that it should have the sovereignty to no longer follow EU regulations, which the EU have said will require some form of checks on good passing from the UK into the EU.
The resulting compromise means that Northern Ireland will remain more closely aligned to EU regulations than the rest of the UK, subject to the continued support for the compromise from the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Another aspect of Brexit that USI polled Irish students on is whether it would impact the likelihood of them choosing to study in the UK in the future. 65% of respondents said that it would impact their decision.
Trinity has in recent years experienced a decline in the number of students that it is accepting from the UK, with College pointing towards Brexit to explain the reduction. In an open letter published in the Financial Times in 2018, Trinity said that it was “devastated” by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
77% of respondents to USI’s survey said that they felt that either had already been affected by Brexit, or would be affected, but only 46.5% said that Brexit had been a top concern for them recently.
The USI is a national representative body for third-level students in Ireland. Along with its partner organisation NUS-USI, the union represents students studying both north and south of the Irish border.