Minister for Further Education Simon Harris has announced that rules surrounding the Student Support Scheme for people living in Direction Provision have been relaxed.
The scheme, introduced in 2015, provides supports similar to the SUSI grant, with today's news putting the scheme on long-term footing.
Anyone who is applying for asylum, subsidiary protection or leave to remain status is eligible for the scheme. Originally, certain framework must exist in order to be in receipt of the scheme. Elements such as having spent three years in education in the State and having a Leaving Certificate will no longer apply to applicants. However, only those who are applying for asylum, subsidiary protection or leave to remain status can avail of the scheme.
Minister Harris hoped that his changes will "address the fears" of prospective applicants, but also mentioned a "long-term approach" to Direct Provision, a system which has been put under continuous scrutiny since its inception. Furthermore, calls for the systems abolition have become louder in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, where those in Direct Provision have been susceptible to the virus due to sub-standard living conditions.
"The government is committed to a new long-term approach to Direct Provision. This will take time to implement but in the meantime, we will continue to make improvements for residents in Direct Provision.
"Relaxing the criteria for the student support scheme will hopefully result in more people accessing third level education.
"This support scheme will also be put on a more long-term footing. I am acutely aware of the stress that students feel at this time and I hope that the changes that I have approved will address the fears of prospective applicants."