British colleges have stepped up their recruitment drive in Ireland and one - Gwent College of Higher Education in Wales - is offering bursaries worth Pounds 800 each to first-year students.
The bursaries, which so far are only available for the current academic year, will be paid in instalments of Pounds 266 at the end of each successfully completed term of the first year. They are funded by the college's own earnings in commercial activities and are described by the college as part of the Europeanisation of Gwent.
The college is also offering the bursaries to French and Greek students who enrol on any one of nine full-time HND courses or five degree courses in engineering, computing and environmental subjects. The college has budgeted for a limit of six students per course.
Gwent, with some 2,500 students, is part of the University of Wales and has been awarding its own degrees since last year. The university has recommended that the college should be called University of Wales College, Newport.
Geoff Edge, director of marketing and public relations for the college, said: "The bursaries have been referred to as 'hello' money by the Irish press. They are a goodway of making students consider the college, but I would be very disturbed if anyone came to the college because of the money."
He added that there had been enormous interest not only for this year but for next as well when no extra funding is planned. Moreover some students applied to other areas such as health and social care which had not been advertised. He denied claims that the college was asking for lower qualifications, saying that the minimum requirement was two A level passes or the equivalent.