Trinity professor expresses concern over possible fee increases for NI students

Professor Jane Ohlmeyer spoke of her concern at an Oireachtas Education Committee meeting

A Trinity professor has expressed her “horror” that Northern Irish students, following Brexit, may have to pay non-EU fees in order to study at a third level institution in the Republic of Ireland and vice-versa. Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern Irish History, and Chairperson of the Irish Research Council, Jane Ohlmeyer spoke of her concern at an Oireachtas Education Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Professor Ohlmeyer stated: “The reality we are facing is that actually a student from the South studying in the North will be treated as non-EU and vice-versa will happen. That fills me with horror, the prospect of that because the non-EU fee is at least three to five times greater that the EU-fee”

EU students in universities in the Republic of Ireland currently do not have to pay fees, while each of these universities sets the fees for international students, which can vary by course. In Trinity, international Arts, Humanities and Social Science students typically pay approximately €17,000 per year, while those in Engineering, Mathematics and Science courses pay more than €23,000 per year, for example.

Professor Ohlmeyer called on the Irish government to ensure that there is a standardised fee to study in Ireland: “I think this is where the government could be very helpful in really trying to ensure that at least on the island of Ireland, there is a single fee for students studying in Belfast or Dublin.”

She continued: “Ideally you want it to be East-West as well as North-South but I really think we are going to have to work hard to achieve that.”

At the committee meeting, the advantages of Brexit for higher education in Ireland were also discussed. The recently appointed chief executive of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Dr. Graham Love, stated that Brexit may be an opportunity for Irish education to position itself more prominently on the global stage through ventures like new partnerships with other EU higher education institutions, and initiatives to recruit international students, academics and professionals. However, Dr. Love also highlighted the current lack of investment into Irish education.

Meanwhile, Dublin City University (DCU) President, Brian McCraith, warned that CAO points may raise if the 12,000 Irish students who chose to study in universities across the UK each year opt to study in Ireland in the future.

Aisling Grace

Aisling Grace was the Editor-in-Chief of the 66th Volume of Trinity News. She was also formerly Online Editor and Deputy News Editor.