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FAQs: Education

Border People provides case studies and frequently asked questions (FAQs) illustrating the dilemmas facing people who cross the border and suggest ways to resolve these.

These are real genuine problems identified by users of the website coupled with advice from staff of the Borderwise project, a cross-border initiative developed in partnership between Citizens Advice (Northern Ireland) and Citizens Information Board (Ireland).

Q:  I live in Donegal and I am going to do a degree link year in Omagh College.  Is there any financial support?

A:  I presume that you are not entitled to a higher education grant from Donegal County Council for this course in Omagh.  You are probably aware of this already, but depending on your personal circumstances you may well qualify for Back to Education Allowance from Social Welfare, for details of the scheme and how to apply see www.citizensinformation.ie, Social Welfare-Social Welfare Payments-Back to Education.  If your course is one that is eligible for student finance in N. Ireland you would, as a non-UK resident, generally only be entitled to a student loan in respect of the course fees. [July 2008]

Q:  I am from the Republic of Ireland and moved to Northern Ireland after I got married.  I am going to London as a mature student.  Am I entitled to any funding/grants?

A:  Access to the full range of student finance usually requires 3 years prior residence in the UK.  However, it is possible that you may qualify for a teacher training bursary of up to £4,000 on the basis that you are an EU graduate training to be a primary teacher in England.   I would suggest you contact the Teacher Information line on 0845 6000 991.  Please also consult ‘A Guide to Financial Support for Higher Education Students 08/09’ which is available on www.studentfinanceni.co.uk, specifically page 27. [July 2008]

Q: What financial supports are available for a student from the Republic of Ireland attending university in Northern Ireland?

A: Generally a non-UK resident student is only entitled to a student loan towards fees from the UK, not maintenance support whether this is a grant or a loan.   Student Finance Direct administers such claims, see www.direct.gov.uk.   A  Republic of Ireland resident can of course, subject to a means test, qualify for a higher education grant toward his/her maintenance from their local county council in the Republic.   In addition, if they are employed in Northern Ireland/UK they can ask to be treated as a ‘migrant worker’ and to be considered for the above additional forms of student finance (loan and/or grant toward maintenance) by the student finance section of the local education and library board attached to their college.[June 2008]

Q:  In Ireland is it the same eligibility for full financial support for a PhD studentship as in England, that is, 3 years of residency?

A:  There is a proposal to bring in a similar residency rule (3 out of the last 5 years) for the academic year 09/10 but for the present and for 08/09 residence in the Republic from 01 October in the previous year is required.  In addition help with postgraduate courses (grants towards fees and/or maintenance) are only available in specific circumstances and for approved courses, see Citizens Information and the Dept of Education and Science’swebsite  for further details.[June 2008]

Q:  I am living in Ireland and wish to apply for university in Northern Ireland.  What student benefits can I get for accommodation and help with living costs, fees, books etc?

A:  Students from Ireland should apply to their local Vocational Educational Committee for a student grant towards maintenance.  Students are also potentially eligible for a student loan for help towards course fees and should apply to the student finance division of the Department of Education.[May 2008]

Q:  I am living in Northern Ireland and have been accepted on a course at university in Ireland.  Will this affect whether or not I can get fees paid and a student loan?

A:  As European nationals, students from Northern Ireland accepted on third level courses in Ireland will generally have their course fees paid by the Department of Education and Science.  In terms of their living costs these students can apply to their local Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland for a student grant and/or loan toward maintenance in the same way as they would if they had applied to a UK College or University.  It is important to note that the Student Support Schemes’ in Ireland are not generally available to Northern Ireland students.[May 2008]

Q:  We are moving from Ireland to NI – we have 2 Children at GCSE level – we are worried about transferring children to Ireland – do they have to move schools – will my children still have entitlement to stay in school in NI?

A: Your child will be able to continue to attend the same course in NI, there are many children resident in the Republic who attend school in N.Ireland.  Whilst places at public funded schools in NI should first be offered to N. Ireland resident children a place on a course he began when resident in NI should not be at risk.[May 2008]

Q:  I want to apply for I.T. Tutoring jobs in Ireland but often come across the stipulation that applicants must be FAS approved.  What does this mean?  I am qualified to teach adults in NI – I have JEB Teaching Diplomas.

A:  FAS (Foras Aiseanna Saothair, translates as Labour Training Agency) is the Republic’s National Training and Employment Authority.  If equivalent your qualification will generally be recognised in all other EU states.

The recognition of academic qualifications is dealt with by National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC) in each European state (contact details of UK one below).

More information on recognition of professional qualifications is available on the European Commission website at http://www.ec.europa.eu/youreurope/nav/en/citizens/working/qualification-recognition/index.html*.  You may also wish to contact the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation (phone 0035318047700) which is an all-island body to check your position.