The government’s pilot scheme to offer third-level education grants to asylum seekers, which has been in operation since 2015, will continue for this academic year, it was announced today.
The scheme has also been altered following a review which concluded that the requirement to have been in school in Ireland for five years in order to be eligible for the scheme was too restrictive. This year that requirement has been reduced to three years.
The announcement was made by the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh together with the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said that the scheme now operates a similar residency requirement to the statutory-based Student Grant Scheme operated by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).
In order to qualify for the grant, applicants must be school leavers who are in the international protection system and who are either asylum applicants, subsidiary protection applicants, or leave to remain applicants.
The grant is not offered to students who are in the international protection system and have been issued a deportation order.
The scheme remains in the pilot stage and a further review is due to be carried out in 2020.
The 2019 scheme opened for applications today and students may apply once they have completed their Leaving Certificate and have been accepted on an approved post-leaving certificate course or an approved undergraduate course.
Minister McHugh said that he was “pleased” that the scheme would continue in 2019. He added that he would “encourage everyone who fulfils the criteria and is considering continuing their education to apply and gain the support they may need to access new opportunities for their future”.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said that she was “delighted to be able to announce a change to the residency criterion”.
In April Trinity’s University Council voted to approve four scholarships per year for asylum seekers to study in Trinity.
These scholarships provide the potential for four students from direct provision to be admitted to Trinity in September free of charge, depending on them securing places through the Central Applications Office (CAO).