Ministers Harris and O’Gorman announce further changes for students living in direct provision

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, T.D. and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, T.D. have today announced changes to fee arrangements for students living in Direct Provision.

From the start of the 2021/22 academic year, international protection applicants who have permission to work and are seeking to access Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses will no longer have to pay international fees of €3,600.

In addition, an examination will be carried out to extend the student support scheme to those who wish to carry out postgraduate courses and to an extension of English language supports.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “The Government has now set out its vision to end direct provision and I strongly support that goal.

“It is my role as Minister for Further and Higher Education to ensure there are no barriers for people living in direct provision to accessing third level.

“Last year, we removed some of the obstacles to the student support scheme which led to a fivefold increase in the number of applications and grant holders. I am planning to undertake a further review of the scheme in 2021.”

The student support scheme offers similar supports to those available to undergraduates in the SUSI grant scheme. A review of the student support scheme will be undertaken in 2021 to examine the impact of the improvements made in 2020 and to look at the possibility of extending it to postgraduates.

Minister Harris said: “The waiving of the international fee for PLCs will move further towards a level playing field and improve opportunities for people.

“I will now ask my officials to consider if there are any further financial barriers impacting on access to third level education for those in the international protection system provision that can be removed.”

Minister Harris added: “My Department is now engaging with colleagues across Government on these matters.

“I hope these changes will help more people access further and higher education in Ireland.”

Minister O’Gorman added: “As a Government, we have made a commitment to introduce a new model of international protection that focuses on integration from day one. Removing the financial barrier attached to PLC courses for people in the international protection process reflects that commitment. It will support people to upskill and lead to increased opportunities for entry into further and higher education, supporting international applicants to live independently and continue with their lives.”