Date Uploaded: 24/05/2016
The Department of Education received 39 applications for student supports under the scheme announced last August.
At the time, then education minister Jan O’Sullivan said a relatively small number of students who are seeking asylum, including those in direct provision, are excluded from going to college each year, primarily because they are considered in the same way as non-EU students with fees of around €15,0000 per year.
It was acknowledged that the numbers likely to benefit would be low. They would be entitled to the same access as Irish students to free tuition and, subject to being within the family income thresholds, for eligibility for grants.
But a brief on the scheme given to Education Minister Richard Bruton reveals that only two of those who applied were successful through the pilot scheme.
With more than 20 students who sat the Leaving Certificate last year believed to have been living in direct provision, the 39 applications was in line with expectations.
The low success rate is likely to be considered in a review of the scheme taking place this year. Around 30 to 40 students who are in the asylum-seeking process are expected to sit the Leaving Certificate each of the next few years.
The Department of Education told the Irish Examiner the scheme has enjoyed widespread support from stakeholders in the sector since it became operational.
“It is currently being reviewed following the conclusion of its first year of existence, and after that review is finalised, further announcements will be made,” a spokesperson said.
The pilot scheme was introduced in line with recommendations in the 2014 report of the Working Group on the Protection Process set up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and then junior minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
The strict criteria mean that only those students who had already been accepted into a third-level course were eligible. Applicants were also required to have obtained a Leaving Certificate, and to have been at least five years in the asylum protection system and to have attended school in Ireland for the same period
Journalist: Niall Murray