11 March 2021

Press release: Irish Refugee Council welcome changes to education access for people in the international protection process

The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman, announced that from this September the €3,600 charge will no longer apply to international protection applicants who have permission to work.

Charlotte Byrne, Education Officer at the Irish Refugee Council said: 

Post Leaving Certificate Courses

"We are delighted to see that protection applicants (with a work permit) will no longer be charged the international rate of €3,600 for a one year PLC course that would normally cost an average of €250.  This is particularly useful for people unable to access VTOS funding because they happen to live in a centre near a College of Further Education with no VTOS places.  When eligible for VTOS funding the fees are free."

"This decision would be even more effective if applicable to all protection applicants, not just those with work permits.  For example, a person arriving into Ireland in April 2021 will not be eligible in September 2021 as they will not yet have a work permit (a person is not eligbile for permission to work until six months after they made a protection application), so they will need to wait 17 months until September 2022 to access post leaving certificate courses.  In addition, some people, for historical reasons are not eligible for work permits and they are permanently excluded from accessing PLC courses unless they pay €3,600."

Student Support Scheme

"In 2020, the Minister expanded this scheme to include students progressing from Further to Higher Education with a QQI qualification as well as mature students for Undergraduate degrees.  From 2021 this funding is now available to Postgraduate students which is important for those people who came to Ireland with a degree who can now improve their employment prospects with an Irish Postgraduate qualification.“



For comment: Nick Henderson and Charlotte Byrne, 0858585559