Brexit increases number of foreign students applying for Irish universities

By Anne Sexton - Last update


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The number of foreign students applying to study at Irish universities has surged. Academics believe the increase in applications from non-EU students is a result of fears over Brexit. The election of Donald Trump has also resulted in an increase in American applications. In addition to the US, the majority of non-EU applications are from India, China and Canada. Most applications are for postgraduate courses.

The number of international applications at University College Cork is up by 40 percent. University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin have also had increases, with non-EU applications up 26 percent at UCD.

Trinity College Dublin provost Patrick Prendergast said Brexit may make international students chose Ireland instead of the UK.

“Where students might have thought of the UK only, they are now hedging their bets and applying not just to the UK, but to other English-speaking colleges,” Mr Prendergast said.

Foreign students may help funding crisis

There are fears that universities will respond by limiting the number of places available to Irish students. Non-EU students pay a premium and Irish third-level institutions have a crisis in funding.

Earlier this year UCD president Andrew Deeks warned universities would do this if the Government did not expand funding.

UCC president Patrick O’Shea agreed that third-level institutions were experiencing pressure. However he ruled out denying places to Irish students or using international ones as a source of funding.

“[At UCC] we’re not going to admit international students at the expense of Irish students, nor will we admit them simply for money. This is an opportunity to focus on quality and build the capacity of the system,” he said.

As well as increased applications from abroad, Irish universities are likely to receive more applications from domestic students too. The number of Irish students choosing to do their third-level education in the UK has dropped. Irish students applying to the UK’s Ucas system is down by 18 percent.

Government initiatives have also increased the pressure on university places by allowing graduates to remain here for longer periods. For example, students from India can stay in Ireland for two years after graduation. As a result, Ireland is a more attractive destination for foreign students.


Anne Sexton

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