07 September 2018 - The Department of Education announced today that it will continue the student support scheme for young people in the asylum process. The scheme was intended to facilitate young people in Direct Provision to move on to third level education after finishing school. Since commencement in 2015, only five people have been granted support from a total of 59 applications due to the restrictive nature of the eligibility criteria attached to it.
Rosemary Hennigan, Policy Officer with the IRC said,
“While we welcome the continuation of the Support Scheme, it is disappointing that the scheme has been announced so late. The CAO process is near completion and, given the narrow criteria , very few young people will be able to avail of the grant. We are asking that the scheme be reviewed, a sentiment also expressed recently by Jan O’Sullivan TD who first implemented the scheme as Minister for Education in 2015.”
“In particular the Irish Refugee Council is calling on the Government to reduce the residency requirement from five years to three, as well as reducing the requirement for time spent in the school system from five years to two, reflecting the Leaving Certificate cycle. Not only would this widen the pool of eligible applicants, it would bring the support scheme in line with the SUSI residency requirement of three years. It will mean that more people who have worked hard and received their Leaving Certificates here will have a chance to move forward in their education alongside their classmates.”
Charlotte Byrne, Education Officer with the IRC said,
“Education is a great equaliser. Ireland’s system of free third level education has meant that many people have realised their education and employment ambitions and abilities despite a lack of means. Talent and hard work are qualities we should foster in young people, regardless of their circumstances.”
“We know from our Education Fund that there are a lot of people looking for support. This year alone I had seven young people apply to our Education Fund who have just sat their Leaving Cert and others who sat their Leaving in the last two years who are still trying to progress their education. Due to current delays in the processing of asylum applications, most of the people I work with will spend in excess of two years in the asylum process, so the need for support is not going away.”
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