Demand by EU students, especially from Spain and Germany, for places at Irish boarding school are soaring, according to a recent article in the Irish Times.
The paper ascribes this to a ‘Brexit Bounce’ as, once Britain leaves the EU, European children will require visas to attend independent schools in the UK.
But visa-free travel is not the only attraction.
Boarding in Ireland is generally cheaper than in Britain because the Irish state subsidises teachers’ salaries. The cheapest Irish boarding school listed by the Irish Times costs €8,000 a year; the most expensive charges just under €23,000. The average cost of boarding in the UK, by contrast is €33,300.
The Irish elite have long sent their children to fee-paying schools, though there are relatively few of them.
According to the Irish Times, only 51 of the Republic’s 700-plus secondary schools charge fees, and just 18 take boarders. Only one of those is an Irish language medium school
Virtually all Irish boarding schools are Christian foundations. Nationally, the five Catholic boys boarding schools are the best known, and these have long featured strongly in the Irish Times League Tables, which are based entirely on admissions rates to Irish universities, as it is illegal in Ireland to rank schools on exam results.
Although nearly half of all Irish secondary schools are single sex, there are only two girls boarding schools, both of which are linked to the Protestant Church of Ireland.
The other residential schools are co-educational Protestant foundations linked to the Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church or the Quakers. These schools are particularly attractive to international students, at least those from non-Catholic countries, and up to half of all the boarders at these schools may come from outside Ireland. Students from these schools are much more likely to go to university in the UK, the US or in another EU country.