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international student or not, applying to UK or Dublin, USA
I presume as parents you have also been outside the UK for a number of years?
The general rule for qualifying for home fees status is that you must have been resident in the UK for the three years prior to tarting university.
Go to the UKCISA website at:
UK undergraduate degrees have a different structure to those in the US. There is less flexibility generally; however, first year courses are often fairly open allowing for some choice and a breadth of subjects (if desired). But it depends on the undergraduate degree course. Medicine, Law, Engineering etc tend to be lockstep and for this reason it is often quicker to graduate in the UK.
I believe the same rules will apply in Dublin, but I advise you to check. I'm not sure which Dublin university your son is thinking of applying to (UCD, TCD or DCU).
I hope this helps!