PRESS STATEMENT 15/06/12Irish Second-Level Students’ Union*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
The right of the child to equal access to education, is a fundamental belief on which the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union was founded. Equal access and opportunity to progress your education is a right, not a privilege.
The Irish state has underpinned this belief in ensuring our young citizens are given access at primary and second-level. However, the importance of equal access to third level education cannot be overstated. We should ensure that any barriers that exist in preventing these forms of education for any for any student living in Ireland (regardless of their place of birth) are overcome providing they meet certain criteria such as having been residence in the country for a minimum number of years.
As many 6th year students make the transition from second-level to third-level, this issue has been brought to the forefront. Students with full residency rights all have equal working rights. However, when it comes to third-level grants, people born outside of the E.U., that do not meet other requirements such as refugee status or leave to remain on humanitarian grounds, are unable to access college grants. This is regardless of how long the person may have been living in Ireland, even if it is most of their life. The ISSU feel that students who have lived in Ireland for many years should have access to a Higher Education Grant.
Mark Caffrey, Equality Officer for the ISSU, has stated “Non-EU citizen students who have lived in this country for years are viewed by their classmates and most of society as Irish. They have worked just as hard as their friends who have been born here and are just as capable. They have access to many other forms of welfare just like anyone else and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have access to a college grant.”
The ISSU welcomes the Minister for Education and Skills’ commitment to review this.