Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Third Level Fees
89. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if universities are in a position to assure students applying from Northern Ireland that under no circumstance will they be charged international fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43164/20]
My question relates to students from the North. I know the Minister gave me assurances with regard to Erasmus. Can he give me the same assurances with regard to Horizon Europe as it pertains to students from the North? What else can we do to ensure greater mobility of students across the island and to create a collection of opportunities for those students? I am also cognisant of the brain drain from the North of Ireland. One third of students from the North of Ireland go to Britain to study. There is no reason they cannot study on their own island.
The Deputy will appreciate the sensitivity of this time. Obviously, we will need to see the final outcome of negotiations on an arrangement between the UK and the European Union. I have met the UK universities minister and the Northern Ireland Minister for the Economy, who has responsibility for higher education. I will also be virtually attending a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council with Government colleagues on Friday. I have made it very clear that I hope there will be an arrangement in place whereby the people of Northern Ireland and the UK can continue to access Horizon Europe. Regardless of the outcome, however, we are very eager to continue bilateral engagement between east and west and between North and South. There are very clear commitments in the New Decade, New Approach agreement. Some civil rights issues that were to be seen in Ulster University in the 1960s are still to be seen today. The Irish and British Governments have made clear commitments in that regard. The issue of all-island research centres also arises. I will be visiting Derry, and Northern Ireland more broadly, in January to begin to explore some of these issues further.