British and Irish young people guaranteed continued access to education institutions

Understanding between UK and Irish Governments pledges to maintain reciprocal rights to each other’s education systems

Children and young people in the UK and Ireland will be able to take full advantage of each other’s education systems as both countries’ Governments signed up to an important understanding.

UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Irish Education Ministers Norma Foley and Simon Harris today (Wednesday, 14 July) signed a historic memorandum of understanding that will maintain the reciprocal rights enjoyed by young people from each country to access all levels of education – from early years through to university – in either country.

In practice it means young people living in Ireland or the UK can go to college or university in the other country. It also allows access to schools, early years settings and special educational needs settings as well as letting appropriately qualified teachers, lecturers and other school or higher education staff work in either country.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

We are fortunate that in the UK and Ireland we have some of the best education institutions in the world, including some of the finest universities and most innovative post 16 and technical education centres. This agreement recognises that and guarantees children and young people from either country maintain the right to benefit from the whole range of opportunities they offer.

Not only that, it also recognises the shared culture, heritage and bond the UK and Ireland have. As we all build back better following the pandemic, opportunities to travel and benefit from it will return and this pledge shared between our countries enshrines them for young people.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Dublin. It recognises that education in the UK is a devolved matter and all home nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – have agreed to it.

The understanding in the memorandum signed today reflects the terms of the Common Travel Area (CTA) guidance that also allows residents of the UK and Ireland to travel to either country and live there without the need for a visa. It also allows citizens of each country to work in the other as well as accessing health care, social support and more. You can find out more about the CTA here.