Discrimination towards non-EU nationals

There is individual and institutional discrimination towards non-EU nationals seeking further and third-level education in Ireland. Also there is inconsistency in relation to the fees they are charged.

A report has found that "incidents of discrimination and racism do occur in educational institutions at all levels... There is a need to acknowledge and combat institutional racism in the educational sector in Ireland." It warned that a failure to do this could lead to "a foreign-national educational underclass, with serious consequences for Irish society".

The report, entitled 'Barriers to Access to Further and Higher Education for Non-EU Nationals resident in Ireland' said: "There is a need to change the mindset to take on board the fact that there is now a substantial multiethnic population in Ireland."

A study commissioned in 1998 found that 75 per cent of foreign-national university students reported some personal experience of discrimination or racism, including racist talk in lectures, higher-quality work being demanded from foreign students, verbal harassment and racist comments in a student publication.

Another major problem identified was inconsistency in fees charged to students and a lack of state support for fees. Government policy prevents migrant workers from receiving educational grants even though they may pay taxes here. Also, students who have been granted refugee status have to pay non-EU national fees if they have not lived here for three of the previous five years.

The report also found that there was a lack of information for non-EU nationals applying to further or third-level education.

It was critical of government inaction in relation to racism. It said that although a National Action Plan Against Racism had been outlined there were no dates fro implementation of the goals.

Emma Browne