Student's hat

The recent tuition fee rises in England (rising from just over £3,000 each year to just over £9,000 each year) has left many people feeling the pinch and wondering how they are going to fund their way through University. For some, it will mean taking extra gap years in order to save up some money; for others, it’ll mean a bigger debt to pay off a the end; still others are wondering if they can afford to go to University at all.

Education specialists are warning that the sharp fee rise will create a market economy in the education sphere, whereby students opt for studying only the subjects that are directly employable such as business, management and sciences, and refrain from studying more analytical subjects such as English, History and Philosophy. They worry that this will lead to an overall decrease in critical reasoning and analytical skills in British society, and fear that the overall effect will be one that is negative in a culture where, as postmodernism reminds us, we are always in more and more need of those skilled in philosophy and the humanities.

However, worried Brits will be reassured to know that there is another way. Like many other countries, the government in Ireland pays fees not only for Irish students but also for any other students in EU countries. Providing you are a EU citizen and you’re pursuing your first undergraduate degree, you are eligible for free fees in nearly all Irish Universities, giving you access to a wide range of course subjects – and the good news is that you can apply straight from A Levels. There are also a variety of maintenance grants up for grabs which will offset the cost of living.

This means that the only fees that have to be paid are the annual student registration fees. Whilst arguably these are tuition fees by another name (indeed, some University heads have admitted as such), at 1,500 – 2000 euro per annum (approximately £1,200 – £1,800), they are vast saving on the price of fees in England and Wales. You’d be getting a top class education by these standards, too – a recent survey rated Ireland as 8th in the world when it comes to the quality of education.

The Irish degree system is generally broader, too – Irish students applying to do a degree in French and Philosophy, for example, would spend their first two years studying various other arts subjects alongside their main subject. This means that graduates leave with a wide skill base and ability for interdisciplinary thinking that is highly prized by employers.

Therefore, if you are worrying about studying in the UK and fretting about how you will be able to afford it, why not consider giving Ireland a shot? After all, even if you just research it, what have you got to lose!