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Students in Direct Provision no longer have to pay PLC international fees of €3,600

The contribution fee for Irish students is €200.

Image: Shutterstock/panitanphoto

PEOPLE LIVING IN Direct Provision will no longer have to pay international fees of €3,600 for Post Leaving Cert courses. 

This will apply from the start of the 2021/2022 academic year for people in Direct Provision who have permission to work and are seeking access to PLC courses.

PLCs are full-time programmes lasting one to two years. They result in a Level 5 or Level 6 qualification and offer a mix of practical work, academia and work experience. 

Students from Ireland and other EU countries have to pay a contribution of €200 per year, with some exemptions available. 

The Minister for Further Education Simon Harris said it is his role to “ensure there are no barriers for people living in direct provision to accessing third level”.

“Last year, we removed some of the obstacles to the student support scheme which led to a fivefold increase in the number of applications and grant holders. I am planning to undertake a further review of the scheme in 2021,” Harris said in a statement.

The student support scheme offers similar supports to the SUSI grant scheme. A review of the scheme will take place this year to look at the impacts of changes made last year and the possibility of extending it to postgraduate students. 

“The waiving of the international fee for PLCs will move further towards a level playing field and improve opportunities for people,” the minister said. 

Asylum seekers are able to seek work six months after they apply for protection.

The student support scheme is open to International Protection applicants who have lived in Ireland for three years or more.

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An examination of an extension of the student support scheme will also be carried out to assist people who wish to carry out postgraduate courses. There will also be an examination into the extension of English language supports.

The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said removing the international fees for these students “reflects that commitment” to introduce a system to replace Direct Provision. 

“It will support people to upskill and lead to increased opportunities for entry into further and higher education, supporting international applicants to live independently and continue with their lives,” O’Gorman said. 

The government last month published its White Paper laying out measures to overhaul the Direct Provision system.

The new model is aimed at ending the current system by 2024 and would see international protection applicants spending no more than four months in six State-owned, not-for-profit centres before moving into their own accommodation. 

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