Government blocks Northern Ireland fee loophole

Northern Ireland students with an Irish passport will no longer be able to avoid paying fees at Scottish universities, as the Scottish government is to introduce legislation from 2013-14 to close the loophole that allowed people from Northern Ireland, England and Wales with Irish passports to study for free, writes Lindsay Fergus for Belfast Telegraph.

Scottish students do not have to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000 (US$14,500) a year if they study in Scotland. Under European law, European Union (EU) students from outside the UK must be treated the same way as local students, meaning they are exempt from fees. Until now, that has meant that students from the rest of the UK with Irish passports were able to be classed as EU students when they applied for a place at one of Scotland’s 18 universities.

This loophole has led to speculation that thousands of applicants from Northern Ireland could use their rights to Irish citizenship to avoid paying fees, as everyone born in Northern Ireland is eligible for an Irish passport.
Full report on the Belfast Telegraph site