Dáil Éireann - Volume 518 - 18 April, 2000
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.
Ms O. Mitchell Ms O. Mitchell
281. Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will remove the three year residency requirement for former emigrants' children to qualify for free fees at third level educational institutions in the interests of our economy and natural justice. [11379/00]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Under the free fees initiative, tuition fees are payable in respect of eligible EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in an EU member state for at least three of the five years preceding entry to their third level course. I would point out to the Deputy that this condition applies equally to all EU nationals, including Irish nationals, in accordance with the judgment  of the European Court of Justice that access to vocational training must apply equally to all EU nationals. I understand that similar residency requirements operate in other EU member states.
The removal of this residency condition for Irish nationals would have to apply to EU nationals generally and could have significant resource implications for the Exchequer. The matter has been raised by a number of Deputies and I have asked my officials to re-examine the issue and report to me in due course.
Candidates who are EU nationals and who do not satisfy the residency requirements under the free fees initiative are eligible to apply for a means tested fees only grant in respect of approved courses in the Republic of Ireland, provided they have been ordinarily resident, for a purpose other than wholly or mainly to receive full-time education, in an EU member state from 1 October of the year prior to entry to college.
Dáil Éireann 518 Written Answers. Higher Education Grants.