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Thursday, 25th July

USI Welcomes Progress on Equity of Access to Third-Level Education for Migrant Students

The Union of Students in Ireland welcomes today’s announcement from the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, regarding changes in the fees arrangements for migrant students living in Ireland.

In future, non-EEA nationals who acquire EEA citizenship during their college course will no longer be required to pay full tuition fees.

USI and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) welcomes this policy change to allow third level students who have secured Irish citizenship to reverse their fee status. The change means migrant students who become Irish citizens during third level will no longer be forced to continue paying the high fees applied to those without Irish citizenship.

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland estimates that around 700 students could benefit from the move.

USI also welcomes Minister Ruairí Quinn’s request that the Higher Education Authority (HEA) report on the practices currently operated by individual higher education institutions in charging different rates on fees. This will provide more clarity to students on the rate of fees they are expected to pay and hopefully lead to a more unified approach by the colleges.

As it stands, many young people who have grown up in Ireland and made it their home are being excluded from educational opportunities and future career prospects. This is a positive step in rectifying this problem and enabling this generation of young people to participate in and contribute to Irish society. However, there is still more work to be done and the criteria for accessing grants and Exchequer Funded Education needs to be updated to include long-term residency.

Joe O’ Connor, USI President said:

“This is an extremely positive development which will provide greater access to third level education for many children of first generation immigrants across the country, who previously faced completely inequitable financial barriers to enter the system even after being granted full Irish citizenship.

It is important that Higher Education Institutes now respond to the Minister’s directive and the subsequent HEA report when published to bring about a more uniform fees treatment of migrant students which is equitable and affordable.

The next step in advancing the cause of fair treatment for these students is to look at the area of reviewing grants criteria, so that access to adequate financial assistance is in place to allow migrant students the opportunity to prosper in third level education.”

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