College fees cut for children of Irish emigrants

Plans are being made to reduce third-level fees for the children of Irish emigrants living outside the European Union according to Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn.

The move, which was made public by Minister Quinn on St. Patrick’s Day, will see the children of Irish emigrants pay the standard undergraduate fee of €2,500 per academic year. This is currently the fee charged to Irish students in third-level institutions around the country. For non-EU students, fees can be as high as €20,000 a year.

To be eligible for the reduced fees, the student must have spent a total of five years in either primary or secondary school education in Ireland prior to emigration.

The reduced fees also extend to EU, EEA, or Swiss students who have spent five years in the Irish education system.

When asked if the reduction in fees will create a loss of income for third-level institutions in Ireland, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “It is not expected that there will be large numbers of such students to which this will apply to, hence there should not be significant reductions in fee income to individual institutions. The Minister has asked the Higher Education Authority to put a review mechanism in place to monitor the progress of this initiative.”

The Union of Students in Ireland is pleased with the Minister’s plans after having raised the issue of the treatment of returning emigrants last December.

Suzanne Cooper

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