Ukrainian students will not have to pay international fees to access third-level courses in the Republic and will be eligible for State grants, under proposals to be considered by the Coalition shortly.
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris will bring proposals to Government later this month to ensure incoming Ukrainian students are treated as Irish when accessing college courses.
The likely number of Ukrainians seeking to access third level is not yet known. However, a help desk which has been established for newly arrived students and researchers has dealt with 240 queries so far.
Latest figures indicate that almost 30,000 Ukrainians – mostly women and children – have arrived in the State since the Russian invasion.
Weekly numbers arriving peaked at more than 4,000 in late March/early April and have since fallen back to about 1,600 a week.
The main burden on the education system so far has fallen on primary schools and, to a lesser extent, secondary.
A key education focus for adult Ukrainian nationals has been ensuring new arrivals can access English language supports through the Education and Training Board network.
As for those seeking to access third level or further education, Mr Harris said there will be financial supports including accessing laptops and digital devices, under the existing educational disadvantage fund.
The memo to Government will also seek additional sums for mental health services to ensure adequate help is available to Ukrainian students.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Harris said access to education for Ukrainian people should not be hindered by “Putin’s illegal invasion”.
“Many Ukrainian people are continuing their education with Ukrainian colleges online,” he said.
“It is vital we facilitate that and colleges across the country are already doing that. Providing English language classes and helping people get to work here remains our biggest response.”
He also confirmed that Ukrainian nationals are now completing Safe Pass training to ensure they can work in construction.
There is also work ongoing in Quality and Qualifications Ireland to help recognise the qualifications of Ukrainians so they can work here.
He said his proposals will ensure “Ukrainian people are treated as Irish students when accessing third-level education”.
This means they will not have to pay higher international fees and will be eligible for financial assistance when accessing higher education. This will be the equivalent of the student support scheme, which is available to Irish students.
A national students and researcher help desk, meanwhile, is serving as a single national point of contact for Ukrainian students and researchers who are seeking to continue their higher education studies in Ireland.
The help desk, staffed by admissions and researcher advisers, has several functions including: assessing students’ English standards; assisting them with documentation; and offering individual help to identify potential courses or work options which students or researchers might be interested in.
It will also seek to guide applicants to the Education and Training Boards’ adult education guidance services, where options such as further education or apprenticeship may be more appropriate.
- The National Student and Researcher help desk can be contacted at: NSRHelpdesk@mu.ie or +353 (0)1 474 7788.