Asylum Seeker applicants who have not completed the Leaving Certificate but have spent at least three years living in Ireland can now apply for third-level grants.

Simon Harris, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science, announced this morning that he is reforming the Student Support Scheme for asylum seekers which has been in place since 2015 to allow more people to access third-level education.

The requirement that an asylum seeker applicant has to be in the education system for a number of years to access the Support Scheme has now been waived. The reform means that anyone in Direct Provision and anyone who has refugee status, subsidiary protection or leave to remain in the country and has been here for three years, can now apply for the Support Scheme.

The scheme previously required asylum seekers to not only have resided in Ireland for five years but to have been in the education system for 3 years. Harris observed in a video posted online that this meant that “on paper we had a support scheme available that actually in truth, very few people could access.” According to data collected by the Irish Refugee Council, six out of fifty-nine students who applied for the Support Scheme were successful in their application in June 2019.

Harris also commented that “while the government is preparing” to end Direct Provision, “it’s important that we take practical actions today that can help people in Direct Provision.” He noted that “removing barriers […] will help very many people” in Direct Provision.

Immigrant Council Ireland commended the reform in a tweet stating that this means there is “less red tape for asylum seekers seeking to access 3rd-level education” and that “education is so important for integration and to be equipped to live a life of dignity.”

Applicants need to have been accepted for a PLC course or an undergraduate course. Applications open today and are open until the 6th of November.

Mahnoor Choudhry – Assistant News Editor