Ulster University to offer reduced fees to students from Britain
STUDENTS from Britain are being encouraged to take advantage of discounts on tuition fees at Ulster University.
Those starting degrees this autumn can save up to £2,000 per year, while the institution is also offering to help with accommodation costs.
However, they will still pay considerably more than students from Northern Ireland.
EU law forbids universities from discriminating between member states, but permits them to set different amounts within the UK.
This means the north's institutions have been allowed to charge students from Britain up to £9,000 a year, while keeping fees for 'home' and EU students lower.
Before May's assembly election, Stormont minister Stephen Farry published options for a more sustainable higher education system.
With government finances expected become even tighter, it is feared a tuition rise may be the only available source of extra income.
Annual costs ranging from £6,500 to £9,000 are being considered.
Full-time fees for home and EU students are currently £4,030 per year.
Annual fees for undergraduates from England, Scotland and Wales attending UU are typically £9,000.
At Queen's University Belfast they will be £9,250 from September.
But UU has now decided to offer incentives and has told young people to "take advantage of one of our special discounts, each year of your course".
There are three options:
:: £2,000 discount on tuition fees
:: £1,000 discount on fees, plus £1,000 towards accommodation and £500 towards travel
:: £1,000 discount on fees, money towards a Mac Book Pro and £500 towards travel
Students must attend UU Belfast, Jordanstown, Magee or Coleraine campus. Discounts are available to those residing and applying from England, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands or Isle of Man and who usually would be paying £9,000.
They can only receive one discount option per year and living costs reductions are for those who live in UU accommodation only.
About six per cent of undergraduates at Queen's and UU are from Britain.
"Our research identified a number of factors which can affect GB students when it comes to deciding where they study, including perceptions formed in relation to distance and travel," a UU spokeswoman said.
"With incentives widely used across the higher education sector, it was important for Ulster University to introduce options which would increase our competitiveness in the market and make the decision making process as clear and simple as possible.
"This will not in any way displace or disadvantage NI students."