The CAO has reported a rise in applications from UK students to Irish colleges; British students are applying for courses in Ireland because fees are significantly lower here.

Fees for study in Ireland are currently at €2,250 (£1,810) – much lower than UK charges at €11,107 (£9,000).

In total, applications from the UK rose by 28%, according to the CAO.

The figure is up from 882 in 2011 to 1,148 so far this year. The CAO has confirmed 2,455 applications so far this year from British students.

UK students are also able to qualify for the Free Fees Initiative because they are EU students. Students from Northern Ireland can make a significant saving by simply choosing to study across the border.

41% of students attending Irish universities are in receipt of some form of means-tested maintenance grant and do not pay the student contribution, a facility not available in the UK.