ICOS declares government rebate scheme “unfair”

ICOS have expressed their disappointment in the lack of inclusion of non-EEA students in government once-off €250 payment to students

The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) has stated that the exclusion of non-EU students from the €250 payment to students is an “unfair and missed opportunity to include non-EEA international students”.

The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins earlier announced a €50 million once-off Covid payment scheme for third level students. This payment will be available only to EU undergraduate and postgraduate students. 

Executive Director of ICOS, Laura Harmon, stated: “It’s highly disappointing that all international students are not included in the €250 rebate scheme announced by the government today.”

Only students who receive the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant are eligible for the €250 payment, other students may receive €250 off their next installment of their college tuition, or will be offered a “credit note” from their institution.

Harmon continued: “Non- EEA students who work part-time, many of whom are in front line roles, were included in the Covid-19 relief payments earlier this year and the same equal relief should be afforded to all those in education, regardless of where they come from.”

International students greatly enhance the student experience for all here, bringing diversity and multiculturalism to the education system,” she went on. “The experience they have here in Ireland will stay with them for their whole lives and they will act as ambassadors for our education system – they should be treated the same as other students and offered the same support during the pandemic as all other students.”

“Non-EEA International students are feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as much as their peers and it is important that we stand by them.”

Harmon concluded that while this “a great scheme” and ICOS welcome it for “students who can avail of it”, but that it is “deeply unfair” that some international students have been excluded.

In a statement made yesterday, Union of Students in Ireland (USI) President Lorna Fitzpatrick spoke of similar concerns regarding the lack of availability of the payment for international students.

Fitzpatrick expressed that the union are “very concerned” that non-EU students will not be able to avail of the  €250 payment, as they “face huge costs and are getting nothing like the usual student experience in Ireland”. 

“Again we feel they are being treated like an income source rather than members of our college communities who bring so much to college life,” Fitzpatrick continued. “It also needs to be ensured that all students are treated the same here and students in all higher education institutions receive the same payment.”

“Covid-19 does not impact students differently, so it would be unfair if students were treated differently.”

Julia Bochenek

Julia Bochenek is a Staff Writer for Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister English Studies student.