Asylum students not eligible for free fees scheme

With higher education costing between €10,000 and €15,000 per year for those in the asylum process in Ireland, the step into third level education is beyond their reach.

During the process of applying for asylum, which can take eight years or more to process in some cases, those seeking asylum cannot work or access free education. Further to the free fees initiative being unavailable, those in the asylum process are also not eligible for back to education allowance or the student maintenance grant, a service which more than 83,000 students received funding from for the 2015/16 academic year.

There was a new student support scheme implemented by the Department of Education in 2015 for young people who had spent at least five years waiting on their refugee application to be processed. However, due to the strict criteria, just two of the 39 students who made applications met the criteria which allows young asylum seekers to access third level education.
There has however been a number of success stories with a number of third level colleges who are the exception to the norm, such as NUI Galway who have recently introduced a scholarship programme for asylum seekers.

DCU have also gone that one step further, along with the Royal College of Surgeons with both colleges each waiving fees for at least one student from the asylum process.

In another successful outcome, one young man has progressed to a nursing degree course in the University of Limerick, thanks to the assistance of Doras Luimní, an organisation which supports and advocates for asylum seekers and refugees.

This particular student had before that successfully progressed from a pre-nursing course at a college of further education.

“We see bright, motivated, enthusiastic young people who want to reach their full potential and prove themselves, but they are not allowed to do that,” Aideen Roche of Doras Luimní told the Irish Times.
“Instead, they have to sit at home and look at the four walls. It’s a bad policy which damages the mental health of young people and encourages long-term dependency on the state,” Roche said.
Gerard Grimes

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