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The Union of Students in Ireland urges the Government to reverse the increase in the GNIB Registration Certificate fee which was increased this week from €150 to €300. The fee was increased by 100% without any notice bar the low-key addition of a sentence on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) homepages last week.

The absence of notice in relation to this fee increase will mean that some non-EEA students who have registered before this week will be paying double the fee of their peers who have already registered. These students have not planned for this increased cost and should not be expected to a pay a fee which is double what they would have budgeted for before arriving in Ireland.

USI believes that this decision and the lack of consultation by the Government with international students, HEIs or the High Level Group in relation to this fee increase could result in damage to the professional reputation of HEIs in Ireland. Educational institutions have been wrongly put in a position where they have issued inaccurate information to students who have come to Ireland. Furthermore, this fee increase and the circumstances in which it was introduced will do nothing to promote Ireland as an attractive place to study for international students.

Laura Harmon, Vice President for Equality and Citizenship for the Union of Students in Ireland said:

‘Students’ Unions across the country are reporting increased casework in relation to international students who are experiencing financial hardship in Ireland. This fee increase will put even more strain on these students who have chosen Ireland as a place of study. If Ireland is to remain an attractive destination for international students, the Government must ensure that the welfare of international students is at the heart of all decisions relating to them. The increase in this fee and the manner in which it was introduced will have a negative impact on international students themselves as well as undermining Ireland’s own International Education Strategy. Along with the Irish Council for International Students, we are calling on the Government and Minster Alan Shatter to reverse this fee increase.’

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