Date Legislation considered: 18 August 2023
Date Legislation in Force: 01 September 2023
Potential Right(s) Affected: Residence/Discrimination/Equal Treatment/ Workers/ Social Security
What does the legislation do?
The Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the Agriculture (Student Fees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2023 (“the 2023 Regulations”) states that the purpose is to set “the level of fees payable for undergraduate and postgraduate higher education courses delivered by DAERA, at its College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), undertaken by students on a part-time and full-time basis.
The 2023 Regulations replace the Agriculture (Student Fees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 (“the 2022 Regulations”).
The IMA noted in its’ report in respect of the 2022 Regulations, that they were incompatible with Article 23 of the Separation Agreement and Article 22 of the Withdrawal Agreement as they did not provide for EU national students with pre-settled status to be treated the same as home students. The IMA also noted that the Regulations were unclear as to how prospective students with in-time or late applications (which are yet to be determined) or joining family members who are protected during their initial 3 months residence are eligible to be treated as home rather than international students.
Part 4 of Schedule 2 to the 2022 Regulations is concerned with eligibility where the course start date was before 1st September 2021. Part 5 of Schedule 2 to the 2022 Regulations is concerned with eligibility where the course start date is on or after 1st September 2021.
The 2023 Regulations correct the issues identified by the IMA in the 2022 Regulations and ensure that students with rights under the Citizens’ Rights Agreements are treated the same (for the purpose of fees) as students ordinarily domiciled in Northern Ireland or Great Britain.
The IMA raises no issues of concern at this stage, however any citizen experiencing difficulties in exercising their rights are encouraged to report a complaint through the IMA Portal.
Further information about the IMA and guidance on how to report complaints can also be found on the Website.