The number of applications from EU students who wish to study in Irish universities has more than tripled since Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

The Central Applications Office (CAO) figures show that applicants from EU states have increased from 1,934 in 2017 to 6,383 this year. They also reveal that the number of students applying from Britain and non-EU countries has increased.

Conversely, UK universities have experienced a 40 per cent decrease in the number of applications from EU students since Brexit according to the latest Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) report. The admissions body have accredited this drop to the “uncertainty” students feel post-Brexit.

Francesca Andrich, a current UCD student from Luxembourg spoke about her decision to study in Ireland. “Brexit had a major impact on my decision to study here. I considered both Ireland and Britain as I wanted to come to an English-speaking country, but the unpredictability of fees and cost of living after Brexit made UK universities much more unattractive.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, has said that the CAO figures indicate that the desire to study in Ireland is increasing year on year. He stressed that the increase in international students did not come at the expense of Irish applicants.

However, the number of students applying from Northern Ireland has slightly decreased, dropping from 1,418 to 1,408 in the past two years.

Research carried out by the Oireachtas Education Committee showed that the cost of living, particularly the cost of rent, is the primary reason for students in Northern Ireland rejecting college offers from the Republic.

Minister Harris has expressed that improvements will be made to north-south initiatives in third level education, with hopes to see greater mobility between Northern Ireland and the Republic to increase opportunities for students. This includes all-island apprenticeship programmes, a review of how to improve student mobility, the roll-out of all-island skills programmes and further support of the expansion of the Magee Campus of Ulster University in Derry.

“Next year, we will develop an all-island apprenticeship and create opportunities for students from across Ireland to study medicine in Northern Ireland.” Minister Harris said.

The Minister and his officials are in discussions surrounding access to 50 medical school places a year in the North for CAO applicants, with hopes to introduce the scheme in 2023.

Ella Waddington – Assistant News Editor