Tuesday 24 October 2017

Quinn axes third level fees for migrant students who have acquired Irish citizenship

Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn
Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn

Michael Brennan, Deputy Political Editor

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has axed third level fees for hundreds of migrant students who have acquired Irish citizenship.

Under the current system, students from outside the EU are obliged to pay college fees of up to €10,000 per year even if they become Irish citizens during their course .

Mr Quinn said he was now changing the system so that migrant students who become Irish citizens during their third level education will no longer have to pay fees.

“This Government has introduced citizenship ceremonies for new Irish citizens, and this policy change will follow on from that development, and ensure that new citizens will be treated exactly the same as those born in Ireland,” he said.

Students will also have to prove that they have been living here for three of the past five years to qualify for free third level fees. However, students who are long term resident here but do not have Irish or EU citizenship will still have to pay third level fees.

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, which had been campaigning for better rights for migrant students, said it was an important and timely step in the right direction.

The move was also welcomed by one of its student campaigners, Tatiana Bezborodova, who came here from Russia to join her parents when she was just seven years old.

She said she had been unable to escape paying fees of €7,400 per year in her final year of medicinal chemistry studies in Trinity – even though she had acquired Irish citizenship in June last year.

“Now I will finally be treated the same as other Irish citizens. I feel like a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders; this change will make my final year more possible and will help hundreds of others like me,” she said.

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