PRESS RELEASE: 15 August 2012
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) and supporters of its Migrant Education Access (MEA) campaign congratulates all young people receiving their leaving cert results today. Helen Lowry of MRCI said, “However, this is a double edged sword, because of the uncertain futures that many children of non EU migrants face. Bright and ambitious young people who have progressed through our schools will not reach their full potential due to the current inequality of access that exists for immigrants at third level. Failure to respond represents a significant loss to Ireland and its knowledge economy”.
Cida Silva from Brazil, whose daughter Jessica receives her results today, said “it is a day of mixed emotions. I am very proud of my daughter but at the same time I am sad and deeply disappointed that she cannot access third level like her school peers”. She went on to say “Despite the fact that we have made Ireland our home over the past twelve years my children face treble fees going into third level. We do not qualify for access to any financial assistance. To me this is unequal and unfair”.
Jesha Lou from the Philippines came to Ireland to join her family over seven years ago. On awaiting her results today she said; “Like all of my friends I am really nervous about getting my results, but I also know that even if I get the points I want I will be deferring my offer. My father cannot afford the fees, over €7000 per year, and is already struggling to support my older brothers in college”. She continued, “Ireland is my home now. I grew up here, my friends, my family and my future are here, but the system just sees me as ‘born outside of Ireland’, so we face these huge fees”.
Helen Lowry of MRCI concluded, “We believe a solution exists, in the longer term through reforms in our immigration system, but more immediately within our education system. This requires simple administrative changes that would result in updated criteria for accessing financial assistance and a standardised residency test at third level. We have asked Minister Quinn to meet with us in light of his commitment to equality of access to education and the current reforms being considered”.
Notes for editor
A typical degree programme in any of Ireland’s third level institutes can cost migrant parents three times more than that paid by Irish students. Residency stamps issued by the Irish immigration system to children of non EU migrants when they turn 16 are inappropriate and do not reflect the realities of young migrants who have come to Ireland to join their parents. Residency stamps such as 2, 2a and 3 cause problems in securing long term residency and citizenship for children of non EU migrants born outside of Ireland. The impact of this for many young migrants, who have grown up in Ireland, is that they are denied access to financial assistance and the free fee scheme upon entry to third level. In the absence of a standardised residency test Irish third level institutes apply an ‘EU fees’ category which is often twice and three times typical fee levels. The window of opportunity for a young migrant to secure citizenship is too narrow and if they have not been naturalised by the time they reach third level they generally face EU or international student fees