Only two asylum seekers qualify for grant to support third-level education

Of the 15 asylum seekers who applied for third-level grant support last year, only 2 were successful

15 asylum seekers sought a grant to attend third-level education in 2016, and two were successful. The number of those who applied also dropped from 39 in 2015 to 15 in 2016.

The grant scheme is operated by the Department of Education to offer financial aid to school leavers who are in the protection scheme or have come through it. The system is separate from the main grant scheme run by Students Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

Under SUSI, depending on issues such as family income, Irish students can receive between €300 and €6,000. Through the Department of Education Scheme, asylum seekers are offered the same amount as Irish students through SUSI.

Unlike Irish and European Union students, asylum seekers do not qualify for free third-level tuition and are legally unable to work.

Those wishing to apply must have attended school in Ireland for at least five years. This has been criticized by the Irish Refugee Council, advising it to be lessened to two years. However, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Education, this requirement was recommended by a report in 2015 of the Working Group on the Protection Process and Direct Provision.

The applicants must also have completed the Leaving Certificate and been accepted on an approved course, be it further education or third-level.

A decision has been made to resume this scheme for the 2017/2018 college year and applications are open until November 2.