Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Equality, Immigration and Integration, Fiona O’Loughlin TD, has said that expecting those in Direct Provision to pay international fees to attend University is completely nonsensical and essentially blocks an entire group of people from accessing higher education.

Deputy O’Loughlin made the comments following an Oireachtas Education Committee, and said that categorising those in Direct Provision as international Students was ridiculous given their unique status as asylum seekers.

She said, “The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) gave an informative briefing to the Oireachtas Education Committee recently and highlighted the need for an exemption to SUSI residency rules for asylum seekers living in direct provision.

“A common-sense approach is needed here. Non-EU or ‘international student’ fees range from €18,000 to €23,000 for most courses, and €45,000 to €52,000 for clinical degrees like medicine. How are people who have fled their own countries, seeking asylum here, expected to pay such fees?

“There are children living in direct provision, completing their leaving certificates in schools all across Ireland and looking to go onto third-level education along with their peers. They are unable to apply for a SUSI grant because of the residency rules and the door is effectively closed to them.

“Integration is key to having harmonious and diverse communities. By denying educational opportunities to a specific group of people, the Government are only pushing that goal further away”, she concluded.