Young People & Education

Our Migrant Education Access (MEA) campaign focused on practices in the immigration and education systems which meant bright and ambitious young people were being blocked from accessing 3rd level, reaching their full potential and contributing to Ireland’s future. These were young people who, in the main, joined their parents under family reunification and had made Ireland their home for a minimum of 3 years - although many had in fact completed their primary and secondary level education in this country.

In July 2013, the campaign resulted in a vital policy change from the Government.

  • Campaigning works!

    The hard work, creativity and commitment of the young Migrant Education Access leaders resulted in a major policy change by the government: students who become Irish citizens during their college course no longer have to continue paying high fees - just like any other Irish person, they can access the 'free fees' scheme. This will save young people and their families thousands of euro each year.

    The group made this short film (with a tongue-in-cheek title!) to document their journey: Not Bad for a Bunch of Immigrant Kids!* from Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.

  • Minding the Gap Seminar 13.03.13

    Minding the Gap is an animated short created by the young members of MRCI's Migrant Education Access (MEA) campaign in order to tell their stories and highlight the barriers they face.

    Over the past year MEA and supporters have highlighted the gaps in our immigration laws which make it difficult for children of non-EU migrants to secure citizenship. This in turn impacts on their ability to progress to third level education. These are young people born outside of Ireland who came here to join their parents and have long since made Ireland their home. The current situation represents a missed opportunity for young people to make a valuable contribution to Ireland's future and economic recovery. We need to enable our talented and dynamic young people to progress in education so they can integrate and participate actively in Irish society.

  • Migrant Education Access (MEA) Campaign Group

    MEA Campaign Group Members

    In response to this growing problem facing migrant families, MRCI formed the Migrant Education Access Campaign Group in April 2012.  MEA is made up of concerned parents and young people, who along with allies and supporters, are campaigning for equality of access to third level education for children of non EU migrants.  MEA has achieved a lot in a short period, outreaching to hundreds of migrant families, raising awareness of the problem in national media and supporting leaders to emerge through its leaders group which meets regularly to plan and advance actions.


  • What needs to Change

    Citizenship ceremony 2012Minister Ruairi Quinn has committed the Department of Education to bring about equality of access to education through addressing anomalies within the system.  It is vital that young immigrants who joined their parents under family reunification are not left out of this programme of education reform.  The current situation requires immediate action in the form of simple administrative changes to policy and procedures in the administering of free fees initiatives and higher education grants.  Passage of a fair and comprehensive Immigration Residence and Protection Bill will in the longer term provide a solution for future generations. Finding a solution to this problem will enable this generation of diverse young people to participate and contribute to society and to Ireland’s economic recovery.


  • Anatoliy

    MEA; MIgrant Education Access; Equality of access to third level education; Children of migrant workersAnatoliy, originally from the Ukraine, is a second year student in NUI Maynooth. Anatoliy has become an active member of the Migrant Education Access campaign, joining the core leaders group where he and others support the development of a campaign strategy to bring about equality of access to third level for young migrants in Ireland. Despite having made his home in Ireland with his family over seven years ago Anatoliy does not qualify for the free fees initiative or student grants. Through Migrant Education Access Anatoliy is actively participating in collective efforts to bring about change. He and other young leaders shared their own stories and presented the work of Migrant Education Access at an international youth work conference organised by the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

  • Nally

    MEA; Migrant Education Access; Equality of access to third level education; Children of migrant workersNally, born in Brazil, came to Ireland over ten years ago with her two siblings to join her parents. She got involved with MRCI through the mPower youth empowerment project where she and other young immigrants made a film about their experiences of growing up in Ireland. Nally, who shared her experiences of racism and difficulties accessing third level education in the film, spoke at the launch of ‘Making Ireland Home’ in the Temple Bar project. Despite the fact that Nally grew up in Ireland and is here over ten years she, like hundreds of other young migrants, has been deemed ineligible for financial assistance at third level. Instead she has to pay ‘EU fees’ amounting to over €7000 per year, almost three times those her fellow Irish born peers face. A dedicated midwifery student in University Collage Cork, Nally has found the time to become an active member of the Migrant Education Access campaign.  As a youth leader in MEA Nally is involved in supporting collective efforts at change on this issue.

  • Young Migrant Perspectives

    Mpower, MRCI’s youth empowerment project, brought together young non-EU migrants to share their experiences and stories about growing in Ireland. Through Mpower and its participative and creative youth work process, a group of young people shared their stories and documented on film their experiences of having made Ireland their home. Making Ireland Home explores contemporary themes such as identity and diversity from a migrant youth perspective in a multicultural Ireland. These stories, shared with humour and honesty, give insight into the some of the problems young migrants experience in Ireland: racism, difficulties accessing third level education and barriers in securing long term residency and citizenship. What all of these young people had in common is that whilst none were born in Ireland, all had grown up here, put down roots and called Ireland home.

    This pre-development work with young migrants formed part of MRCI’s European Integration Fund programme of work in 2011 and raised awareness of issues accessing citizenship and third level, informing the Migrant Education Access Campaign.

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    Public and political support for the campaign is growing. If you feel passionate about access to education for young people, get involved and support this campaign. Register your interest by contacting / 01 8897570