State supports for young asylum seekers towards higher education: ‘good intention' policy framed in discriminatory terms
‘Mayo Intercultural Action welcomes a new pilot scheme to facilitate access of asylum seekers children to third level education in 2015/2016 academic year introduced on the 28th of August. To date secondary school leavers, who are asylum protection applicants, could not progress with their education due to the prohibitive rates of the international fees they fall under. The scheme offers an access to state supports similar to the State Grant Scheme and aims to change the situation where young asylum seekers ‘cannot plan for their future in the same way as their classmates'.
However in practice the new policy introduced by the Minister for Education and Skills is going to benefit only a fraction of the persons in this category due to a number of conditions attached. Students who have been in the secondary school in Ireland for less than five academic years, as well as those in the deportation order stage will not be entitled to support to progress with their education. It means that a student completed 5th and 6th years of secondary school is forced to repeat the Leaving Certificate for another three years to make up a five year term.
Excluding persons in the deportation order stage does not appear as a fair condition either. These are the persons who have been through the protection system for longest, while the deportation order stage may last for several years with the very few people having been actually deported in the end.
While some young asylum seekers will be able to start college on the basis of this scheme, the majority in this category are going to be left out, having been deprived of an equal opportunity. The policy setting out the ‘five years' term condition sends the message to asylum seekers and the society at large that the process of consideration protection claims can last for five years and longer, and this is not what is expected from the government in relation to the effective management of the asylum protection system.'