Students in the asylum protection system will have access to State supports for third-level education from next week.
It means that they are eligible to apply for a student grant and have the €3,000 student contribution paid on their behalf for the next academic year.
In order to qualify, students will have to have spent at least five years in the Irish school system.
A relatively small number of students are likely to benefit – there are about 20 school-leavers a year in the direct provision system, and some who have moved beyond direct provision are still in the asylum protection system. They may not all fulfil the five year condition.
Up to now, students in the asylum protection system did not qualify for such supports meaning that most could not progress with their education, unless they were lucky enough to find a sponsor.
Announcing the move today, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said that each year there were students in the asylum protection system who were effectively excluded from continuing their education after completing the Leaving Cert.
“These students have completed post-primary education in Ireland but cannot plan for their future in the same way as their classmates. It’s a particularly unfair situation that I want to see changed”.
The minister said the change would “bring certainty to a relatively small number of students who up until now have been marginalised despite their academic performance.”
The initiative was one of the recommendations contained in the recent report by the Working Group on the Protection Process, which was chaired by former High Court Judge Dr. Bryan McMahon.