22 October, 2019 - Minister McHugh meets UK Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, T.D. met Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson M.P. in London today (Tuesday October 22) to reinforce commitments to strengthen education ties between Ireland and the UK.

While acknowledging the challenges that will arise from Brexit, both Minister McHugh and Secretary of State Williamson agreed to meet as a symbol of both the Irish and UK Government’s pledge to maintain access for citizens of each country to all levels of education on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Minister McHugh said: “It is important to maintain the good relations that we have with the UK Government, particularly the many ties which exist between education systems in both countries. Those ties are historic and diverse, not least through the recently canonised St John Henry Newman, Oxford academic and founder of UCD.

“The meeting was also valuable to reassure school students and others, who are considering embarking on studies, that both Ireland and the UK are committed to ensuring students have access to financial support systems if they travel to study.”

Minister McHugh noted the Memo of Understanding that was signed between Ireland and the UK last May in relation to the Common Travel Area.

The MoU acknowledged the importance of education noting that “the CTA affords Irish and British citizens the right of access to all levels of education and training, and associated student support in each other’s State on terms no less favourable than those for citizens of that State.”

The continuation of CTA arrangements will ensure that children living on either side of the border can continue to attend school in either jurisdiction, as they do now; students will be able to study in either jurisdiction, and students will be entitled to the same fee levels as citizens in the other State.

Plans are also being progressed to ensure the application process for college and university places remains the same and preparations have also been made for the SUSI grant arrangements to continue to apply for both Irish and British students in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Brexit will not affect the grants available to eligible students. Students from Ireland will continue to be able to study in the UK and students from the UK will be able to study in Ireland with grant rules continuing to apply in the normal way.

Minister McHugh added: “The two governments have shared objectives and a meeting like today serves to remind everyone of the value of pupil and student mobility on both North-South and East-West bases.”

Minister McHugh and Secretary of State Williamson reiterated their desire to establish appropriate structures at official level to develop and oversee opportunities to strengthen collaboration between both countries, and tasked their officials to report back to them within the next eight weeks.

 

 

Notes to Editors

 

On 9 July, the Government published the Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update which reflects the extensive work that has taken place at EU level and on a whole-of-Government basis, including the Brexit Omnibus Act, to prepare for a no deal Brexit.  It sets out the next steps to be taken between now and 31 October. While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government's priority, preparations for a no deal Brexit are continuing across Government.

On 8th May 2019, an Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington MP in the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the CTA.

Many of the arrangements in place regarding education relate to the Common Travel Area with the UK. The MoU acknowledged the importance of education noting that “the CTA affords Irish and British citizens the right of access to all levels of education and training, and associated student support in each other’s State on terms no less favourable than those for citizens of that State.”

The continuation of CTA arrangements will ensure that children living on either side of the border can continue to attend school in either jurisdiction, as they do now.

In terms of higher education, this means that after Brexit, Irish students will continue to be able to study in the UK and UK students will be able to study in Ireland.  Furthermore, Irish students will still be eligible for the same rate of fees as UK students in the UK.  Equally, UK students will still be eligible for the same fee structures as EU students in Ireland. 

For those wanting to study in the UK, applications for higher education places in the UK will continue to be made using current systems.  For those wanting to study in Ireland, the CAO and State Examinations Commission are working with UK counterparts to ensure smooth continuity of the applications process. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

In the event of a No Deal, the Minister for Education and Skills will commence Part 5 of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 to ensure that current SUSI grant arrangements can continue to apply to eligible Irish students studying in the UK, as well as the payment of SUSI grants to UK students in Irish higher education institutions.

After Brexit, the usual SUSI grant rules will continue to apply for UK and Irish students. 

In the event of a No Deal Brexit, the Minister for Education and Skills will commence Part 5 of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 to ensure that these arrangements can continue to apply to eligible Irish students studying in the UK, as well as the payment of Susi grants to UK students in higher education institutions in Ireland.

After Brexit, there may be implications for individuals working in Ireland or another EU member state who obtained a professional qualification in the UK. The Government has encouraged regulatory authorities in Ireland to engage with their counterparts in the UK to manage the process for the continued recognition of qualifications after Brexit.  This process has been ongoing for quite some time, and as of now no significant issues are expected in the context of a no deal exit. 

Further information is available on the Department’s website here: https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Brexit/education-getting-ireland-brexit-ready.html

This work is part of a series of measures that the Government is taking, both nationally and in conjunction with the EU, to prepare for the UK’s departure from the European Union. For more information please also see www.gov.ie/brexit and www.dfa.ie/brexit