Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has called for the removal of obstacles to allow all Irish students, regardless of whether they are studying in Ireland or outside the State, to receive State financial support towards their student fees.
In a question to the Taoiseach in Dáil Eireann, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “In the coming weeks, the Government will introduce the €1,000 State financial support towards student fees. It is a once-off payment and is, unfortunately, not at present applicable to those studying in Northern Ireland, Britain or elsewhere outside our State. That is wrong. We have to encourage students to travel to study on a cross-Border basis, particularly in our own country. This needs to be revisited.
“There is also the welcome introduction of the rental tax credit of €500 to parents of third level students paying their child’s rent in a tenancy registered with the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB. That should also be applicable to students whose parents are paying for registered accommodation outside the State.”
The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “Whatever obstacles exist to ensuring those two benefits are applied to all Irish students should be removed without delay. It is within the capacity of Government to ensure a level playing field and that students who, in many cases, did not obtain places in the State and are studying elsewhere are not disadvantaged.”
In response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated: “(Deputy Brendan Smith) has consistently raised this issue. It was a significant initiative by Government to reduce student fees by €1,000 this year and €500 next September. There have been post-Brexit changes, generally speaking, in terms of the grant regime in Scotland vis-á-vis Irish students and fees. I will discuss this again with the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to see what can be done but it is not as straightforward as we would like. I will see what can be done about both issues the Deputy raised.”