Tuition fees questions and answers

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With A-level results out on Thursday in Northern Ireland, young people will have decisions to make on what university to go to, with the issue of what tuition fees they will have to pay being a major consideration.

BBC NI Education Correspondent Maggie Taggart answers the key questions about the fees.

How much will I have to pay to go to university in Northern Ireland in September 2011?

In September 2011 the fee will be slightly higher than last year. All universities in the UK will be able to charge up to £3,375.

Students will be able to take out a government loan which is repaid after graduation, once a prescribed level of income has been reached.

How much will I pay to go to university in September 2012?

The Northern Ireland first and deputy first ministers have pledged to keep the annual university tuition fees at around the 2011 level.

However, the assembly has not agreed on how to raise the money from other areas, in order to fund the local universities.

A lower fee than the rest of the UK will cause a shortfall in funding which needs to be filled.

If I decide to go to a university in a region which is charging fees of £8,000 or £9,000 a year, will I pay the lower rate charged by Northern Ireland universities?

No firm decisions have been made but if you decide to go to another part of the UK which charges higher fees, you are likely to have to pay the higher fee.

The difference between the higher and lower rates will not be paid by the NI Assembly.

However, the government is expected to make a higher student loan available to students who decide to go to more expensive courses outside Northern Ireland.

That will have to be repaid under the same conditions as for the Northern Ireland universities.

If I come from a region outside Northern Ireland, will I be able to take advantage of the fees which will be lower than in Great Britain?

The lower rate of fee is almost certainly restricted to those from Northern Ireland. If you live elsewhere you will very likely to pay a much higher fee, but the level has not yet been agreed.

If I am offered a university place, in another region, for 2011 but decide to delay or defer beginning the course until the following year, will I get the advantage of the lower 2011 fees?

No, deferred places will charge tuition fees at the rate set for the year the student begins the course.

So even if you were accepted for a course in 2011, if you decide to put off attendance until 2012 or later, you will be charged the 2012 rate.

The average Great Britain fee for 2012 is likely to be £8,200.

If I choose to go to university in the Republic of Ireland, how much will I have to pay and will the fees rise in the future?

Students from Northern Ireland who choose to study in the Republic of Ireland pay 1500 euros registration fee.

That is soon to rise to 2000 euros. The fee is paid as a grant by the Department of Employment and Learning.

There are suggestions that the government of the Republic of Ireland is considering charging tuition fees.

The department will consider the implications of that in the future.

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