Under new government plans for further and higher education, students living in Direct Provision will not have to pay the same level of fees as international students for post-second-level courses.

The plan was published on Monday, the 8th of March by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris. The plan has been introduced in an attempt to remove “barriers for people living in Direct Provision to accessing third level” education.

The plan aims to focus on helping students in Direct Provision to integrate smoothly into society by increasing the number of English language courses. International fees for PLCs will also be waived. Harris commented that this “will move further towards a level-playing field and improve opportunities for people”

The above measures are to cost an estimated €10 million euros on top of the pledged recovery €2.5 billion which the higher education sector lost from international student fees due to the pandemic.

Furthermore, it has been reported by the Irish Times that the government is considering extending the student support scheme to students in Direct Provision who are to take postgraduate courses. The student support scheme is similar to the SUSI scheme which provides grants and other financial supports for students studying in undergraduate courses.

Harris commented last month that Ireland’s third-level education system was “not fit for purpose”. The newly unveiled plan is expected to address institutional issues within the system while simultaneously addressing student and financial concerns.

Some of the initiatives to bring such reform include making apprenticeship programmes available within public departments and local authorities. The CAO system is also to be redesigned to allow students to apply for further education and higher education courses as well as apprenticeships in the same place.

Mahnoor Choudhry – Deputy News Editor