Education for people with refugee status or subsidiary protection or permission to remain

Information

All children and young people, including those granted international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection) or permission to remain are entitled to free primary and post-primary education.

People who have been granted refugee or subsidiary protection status have the right to access education and training in the like manner and to the like extent in all respects as an Irish citizen. While it is not set out in legislation, people given humanitarian leave to remain in the State are normally conferred with most of the same rights and privileges, including the right to education, as those conferred on refugees.

You can read more about the Irish education system in this guide to living independently for people who have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection or permission to remain (pdf).

Early childhood education

Early childhood education generally means education before the start of formal schooling. It covers the period from birth to 6 years. It is available in pre-schools, playgroups and daycare services.

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme gives children access to a limited amount of free care and education before they start school.

Primary and secondary education

All children are required to be educated from the age of 6 to 16 (or until they have completed 3 years of second-level education).

On completing primary education, the students then transfer to post-primary (second-level) education. They join the Junior Cycle of secondary education, which lasts 3 years. At the end of this cycle, students present themselves for the Junior Certificate Examination. Students then continue into the Senior Cycle, which lasts 2 or 3 years and leads to students presenting for the Leaving Certificate Examination.

Children with special educational needs because of a disability get extra support either in their own school or in special schools.

Corporal punishment is prohibited in Irish schools. There are extra resources in schools for non-English-speaking children. Children may have free access to mother tongue supports.

Adults may have access to English language classes and to adult literacy which are provided by the local Education and Training Board (ETB). The availability and duration of these classes is decided by the local ETB.

Further education

People with refugee status or subsidiary protection, with humanitarian leave to remain or leave to remain as the parents of an Irish-born child can access approved PLC courses. They may also participate in the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) provided they meet the normal VTOS requirements. You can read more about access to further education courses for non-EU nationals here.

Third level education

People with refugee status or subsidiary protection and those with humanitarian leave to remain are entitled to free third-level (university or college) education if they have been living in Ireland for 3 years or more. They also may be entitled to third level maintenance grants. Information about their entitlement to free fees is on studentfinance.ie.

Those with leave to remain as parents of an Irish-born child are not entitled to free fees or maintenance grants.

Page edited: 6 January 2017