College students will now have the opportunity to spend three months in the Gaeltacht thanks to new government funding worth €250,000.
Students will live with Gaeltacht families for three months while attending a third level qualification course for the duration of an entire semester.
A subsidy worth €17 per day will be provided, enabling third level institutions to offer this term in the Gaeltacht to their students.
The subsidy will be payable to families who are qualified under the Department's Irish Language Learner's Scheme. This aid amounts to a subsidy worth up to €1,428 per student and will be payable to families who provide accommodation.
The announcement was made by Minister of State for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Seán Kyne TD in Ionad Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in Carna, Co Galway, which is an off-site part of the NUI Galway campus.
All third level students studying Irish as a core component of their degree will be able to avail of the three-month study period - for example those studying for a B.A. in Irish or B. Comm with Irish.
Students who need a high competency of Irish in order to work in public service professions can also participate to ensure engagement with the Irish speaking community through Irish.
Minister Kyne said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to announce this new funding in further supporting third level students across Ireland to further enrich their Irish through spending three months living with Gaeltacht families while they are attending a qualification course in the Gaeltacht.
"The Gaeltacht areas are the Irish Language's native domain and as a result of this measure up to 175 students a year will have the opportunity to access immersion in Irish – which will be of benefit both to the Irish Language and the Gaeltacht.
“Of course this will also help to further develop the state system's capacity in attending to the extra demands on services that are provided through Irish at present and in the future.
"For many years, students learning languages have had the opportunity to spend time immersed in a target language while studying abroad on Erasmus. A fund will now be available for the first time which will help students to spend an entire semester in the Gaeltacht.”