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Minister Quinn announces lower higher education fees available to children of Irish emigrants

Children of Irish migrants and other qualifying European citizens who spend 5 years in primary or post primary school in Ireland will now pay lower fees for third level

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., is moving to lower the fees applicable to certain Irish emigrants and European nationals whose children wish to study in Irish universities and Institutes of Technology.

Through the new initiative, the Minister is ensuring that children who move out of the Irish education system and subsequently return to study at third level should not be penalised by charging them the non-EU rate of fee. This fee is significantly higher than that which applies to students who come from the European Union.

The new fee structure will apply to children of Irish families who may have moved abroad for economic or social reasons and therefore were taken out of the Irish education system. It will also apply to other qualifying European citizens who have schooled their children in Ireland or the EU.

Under the new system, any Irish, EU, EEA or Swiss student who has spent five years in primary school or second level in Ireland will be charged the same rate as other EU nationals to study at undergraduate level.

Arrangements are being put in place for the new fee scheme to be introduced for the coming academic year.

“The economic upheaval that this country has been through has seen many of our citizens move abroad in search of work. But, as our situation improves, we are already seeing more families moving home and this is very welcome.

“As Minister for Education and Skills, I want to ensure that the children of these migrants are not penalised when it comes to attending third level. From this September, once they meet the criteria of having spent five years in the primary or secondary school here they can avail of the EU rate of third level fees.”

“I have informed my Ministerial colleagues and our embassies of this good news and as we celebrate St Patrick’s Day with the Irish diaspora in every part of the world, it is fitting that I can make this announcement,” said Minister Quinn.


Note for Editors

In the Higher Education Sector the status of undergraduate students is assessed by higher education institutions in order to determine if they qualify for free fees or are liable for the payment of tuition fees:

Free Fees - the Exchequer meets the cost of undergraduate tuition fees for first-time students who hold EU/EEA/Swiss nationality who have been resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for three of the five years preceding their entry to their course of study. Such students pay a student contribution to their institution (currently €2,500 p.a.).

EU fees – this fee level is historically linked to fee levels prior to the introduction of free fees and is mainly charged by Higher Education Institution’s (HEIs) to EU/EEA/Swiss students who do not qualify under the free fees schemes e.g. students who are repeating a year of study for which they already got free fees, students who already hold an undergraduate qualification.

Non-EU fee – this higher fee is mainly charged by higher education institutions to non EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and is linked to the full economic cost of courses. This fee is also charged to certain EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have not been resident in the EU/EEA/Switzerland.