Ireland’s post-Brexit relationship with UK will have consequences for thousands of Irish students.

There is one consequence of Brexit that has not been widely discussed that will affect around 3,500 students in Ireland: the Erasmus scheme. Erasmus is one of the most successful programmes for students in the European Union. For 30 years, it has been offering students the opportunity to study in another European country.


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Of course, the Erasmus scheme will continue to offer Irish students this opportunity. However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK universities will no longer be accessible to students availing of the Erasmus programme. This is a huge loss and disadvantage for many students.

In addition to the obvious educational and cultural experience this provides, it is widely known that graduates who have studied abroad will stand out to future employers as it displays independence, confidence and the ability to work in diverse environments.

A postgraduate of Dublin City University is concerned that this will result in less students taking part in the programme, as an English-speaking country feels like “a home away from home” for young students.


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“I studied Law in the University of Edinburgh for one semester. I can admit foreign languages has never been my strong point. I wanted to go to a university in another country where the classes were taught in English.”

She also spoke of the huge benefits of studying law in one of the UK’s top universities.

“The UK has set precedent for the law in Ireland for many years. UK law is considered in cases here in Ireland on a daily basis.”

As one of the world’s leading destinations for international students, UK universities are among the best in the world, and consistently perform well in world rankings. In the QS World University Rankings® 2019 features 76 top universities in the UK, including four in the global top 10. They also have a reputation for world-class research.

As political and economic issues are still dominating Brexit negotiations, the status of our future relationship with the UK in terms of education is not top priority. However, the manner in which it is considered, if at all, will have substantial consequences and could potentially limit opportunities for students in Ireland as well as other countries in the EU.

Given the increasing risk that the UK may leave the UK on 30 March without a deal, the European Commission issued a press release on: Brexit Preparedness: European Commission adopts final set of “no-deal” contingency measures for Erasmus+ students, social security coordination rules and the EU budget. It proposes the protection of the 14,000 students currently residing in the UK under the Erasmus programme.

“In a ‘no-deal’ scenario, [students] would not be able to complete their Erasmus term and may no longer be eligible for grants.”

Therefore, the dismissive approach displayed by the British government could have detrimental effects on current and future Irish students. The UK’s future access to the Erasmus programme is yet to be determined as a part of wider discussions with the EU.