A Galway businessman has come forward and offered to pay for the third level education of two students in the Direct Provision system who were not in a position to fund their courses as their status would mean paying sums of up to €10,000.
The businessman, who wished to remain anonymous but is said to be well-known, made the generous offer after media reports revealed that two students could not access third level education because of their parents’ status in this country despite achieving the Leaving Cert points required and being in the Irish education system for at least five years.
The issue was highlighted last week by Sinn Féin city councillor Cathal Ó Conchúir who described the practice of young people in Direct Provision being denied access to third level education, as well as the length of time taken for refugee status approval, as “unfair, unreasonable, and unjust”. In particular, he spoke about the plight of two students, a boy and a girl living in Direct Provision accommodation at Eglinton Hotel in Salthill, who can not afford the non-EU fees which would apply when they are in receipt of €19 a week.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Cllr Ó Conchúir said the businessman had been disgusted by this and has agreed to make funding available for the affected students to attend third level education until they have achieved their primary third level qualifications.
“He was really put out that these students couldn’t go forward unless they had the money for it. Whatever the parents’ status, the children should be allowed to complete their education, some sort of education if they are staying in the country, as it is better for them to be educated and integrated. These students on completing a third level qualification would be an asset to Irish society in future years. Children doing their Leaving Cert should be allowed to go on to third level.
“I now intend to form a lobby group with many of the people that have contacted me to ensure that students from Direct Provision can move forward with their education. This is not without precedence, however, as students from Direct Provision have had access to third level education in the past but for some reason this practice seems to have fallen by the wayside.
“US President Barrack Obama passed a DREAM Act in the USA two years ago so that a similar situation would be averted. We need to do the same to ensure that this wrong is righted and the rights of young people to an education in Ireland is enshrined and not impeded in any way,” said Cllr Ó Conchúir who is currently attempting to find a placement in one of Galway’s third level institutions for the two students.