Minister Harris announces continuation and expansion of Student Support Scheme for those in the International Protection System

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD today (Friday) announced further improvements to the Student Support Scheme for eligible students in the international protection system to access third level education for 2021/2022.

The Student Support Scheme provides supports in line with the current Student Grant Scheme to eligible school leavers who are in the international protection system (other than those at the deportation order stage) and who are either:

  • Asylum applicants;
  • Subsidiary protection applicants; or
  • Leave to remain applicants. 


Following changes made last year, the 2021 scheme will now fund postgraduate studies for the first time. Funding is aligned to the statutory Student Grant Scheme (SUSI) with a maximum amount of €6,270 for fees and up to a maximum of €5,915 for maintenance support for eligible applicants.

The 2021 scheme will open for applications today, 24 August, 2021.

Minister Harris said: “I’m delighted to announce the further expansion of this scheme to fund postgraduate courses for 2021. This financial support provides a valuable opportunity for eligible students in difficult situations to access further and higher education, resulting in more inclusive campuses and ultimately a more diverse workforce for our economy.”

“The scheme has supported 51 people so far, and is an important support to young people who are in in our international protection system and are seeking to progress their education here in Ireland”.

Minister Harris said: “I have always put a strong focus on supporting vulnerable groups.  I would encourage all prospective students who may be eligible for support, to submit their applications so that supports can be put in place early in the academic year.”

This follows on from the joint announcement in March 2021 by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science and the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, that, from the start of the 2021/22 academic year, international protection applicants who have permission to work and are seeking to access PLC courses will no longer have to pay international fees of €3,600. Today’s announcement is another step in the journey to help more people access further and higher education in Ireland.

Charlotte Byrne, Education Officer with the Irish Refugee Council said:  “We are delighted to welcome the news that the Student Support Scheme now includes the option to apply for postgraduate study for Protection Applicant students as well as undergraduate and PLC courses.  

“This is something we had raised in our response to the Public Consultation on Statement of Strategy 2021-2023 in December 2020, and again at our meeting with Minister Harris in January 2021 and we are grateful to him for taking our opinion into consideration. 

“It is very important that all people be allowed to improve and develop their skills and experience through education. This Scheme provides a concrete pathway for Protection Applicants to improve their level of education, which will allow them to find meaningful work, and thus support their family and contribute to society.”

Applicants in the broad protection system who wish to be supported to pursue either PLC courses in further education, undergraduate courses or postgraduate level course in higher education will be required to meet the following criteria:

  • Meet the definition of a protection applicant or a person at leave to remain stage (other than those at the deportation order stage);
  • Have been accepted on an approved post-leaving certificate course, an approved undergraduate course or an approved postgraduate course.


  • Have been part of an application for protection or leave to remain for a combined period of three years as at 31 August 2021.

Further information on how to apply, including the application form, is available on our website.


The application window is open from now until 30 November 2021