Dáil Éireann - Volume 536 - 10 May, 2001
Written Answers - Higher Education Grants.
Mr. Creed Mr. Creed
163. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Irish citizens living abroad whose children wish to attend third level college here are excluded from benefit under the higher education grant scheme and are obliged to pay college fees; if he will consider amending the terms of the scheme, whereby such students, whose courses are being funded by relatives here and whose parents have returned to Ireland permanently, can benefit from free fees under the higher education grants scheme without having to be resident here for three of the previous five years. [13354/01]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): My Department's maintenance grants schemes and free fees initiative contain provisions relating to residency.
To be eligible for a maintenance grant under the terms of the student support schemes a candidate must fulfil conditions as to residence, age, means and nationality. To fulfil the residency requirement a candidate's parents, or, in the case of an independent mature candidate, the candidate her-himself, shall have been resident in the administrative area of the local authority or VEC from 1 October of the year prior to entry on an approved course. The local authority or VEC has discretion to waive this requirement in exceptional circumstances.
Under the free fees criteria tuition fees will be paid in respect of EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in an EU member state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to a third-level course subject to certain conditions. 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.
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, pro vided 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.
There are no plans at present to change the existing criteria. Any change would have to be equally applicable to all EU nationals in accordance with the judgment of the European Court of Justice.
Dáil Éireann 536 Written Answers Higher Education Grants.