Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 08 May, 2008
Written Answers. - Work Permits.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has conducted an assessment of the impact on the international image of Ireland as a destination for international students, in view of his proposals to require non-EEA students to send their children to private schools and to obtain work permits if they want to work while studying here. [17182/08]
Deputy Dermot Ahern Deputy Dermot Ahern
 Deputy Dermot Ahern: As the Deputy may be aware, certain aspects of student migration from outside the EEA have given rise to concern in recent years.
It has been apparent for some time that a significant proportion of non-EEA students are in reality economic migrants who enroll in a course purely for the purpose of gaining entry to the State and accessing the labour market. There is evidence that some students may be subject to exploitation in the workplace. It is also believed that the concession available to students to work 20 hours per week during term time and 40 hours per week outside of that is being abused. Having regard to these factors, the Social Partners agreed under Towards 2016, “that the employment of non-EEA students is subject to an application for employment permits”. The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment is currently developing a proposed Student Permits Scheme to give effect to this commitment.
A non-EEA adult student in the State is required to be economically self-sufficient. This requirement is clearly not being met in circumstances where the student is having their dependant child educated at the taxpayer’s expense. Indeed it would be an untenable proposition that a non-EEA national should be entitled, merely by dint of enrolling in one of the myriad of courses on offer, to obtain a state-funded education for their children. An exception was made in the case of fee paying schools where, even though there is State funding, the parents also make a contribution to the costs of their child’s education. However, this concession is under review at present.
My Department has been carrying out a review of student immigration generally. The purpose of the review is twofold. Firstly, it is clear that reform is needed in this area and the review will address the abuses in the system. Secondly, it will draw up proposals for a more coherent approach to student migration consistent with Ireland’s general immigration policy and with the Government’s other policy objectives. The review will be completed in the near future and its recommendations will be discussed at that time with other relevant Government Departments.
Ireland’s image abroad is obviously something of which we must all be cognisant. That image is best served by Ireland offering a well regulated system of student migration that is aimed at attracting genuine students to bona fide educational courses.
Dáil Éireann 653 Written Answers. Work Permits.