Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Fees
188. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the criteria and number of years residency required for students to access the payment of fees when entering third level courses in view of the fact that many young persons are returning home having been abroad during the recession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48752/17]
The position is that to qualify for funding towards tuition fees, students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course. These rules apply to all students from all EU/EEA/Swiss states.
Where students do not qualify for free fees funding they must pay the appropriate fee - either EU or Non-EU, as determined by each higher education institution. These institutions are autonomous bodies and the level of fee payable by students who do not meet the requirements of the free fees scheme is a matter for the relevant institution to determine.
Due to concerns in relation to the fact that in some cases the higher Non-EU fee was being charged to students who hold EU/EEA/Swiss nationality but did not meet the residency clause for free fees, my Department requested that the higher education institutions charge the more moderate EU fees to such students who have completed at least five academic years of study (primary or post-primary level) in Ireland/EU/EEA/Switzerland and commence their first undergraduate course of study in an approved institution here. This position took effect from the academic year, 2014/15. In this way, such students, while still not eligible for tuition fees funding under the Free Fees Initiative, could avail of the more moderate EU rate of tuition fees.
Tax relief is available on these fees and students can apply to the Student Assistant Fund for financial support if needed.
There are currently no plans within my Department to amend this criteria.