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Written Answers - Third Level Fees

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 175.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if his attention has been drawn to the policy of a university (details supplied) to charge non-EU resident fees for persons who are Irish and EU citizens who have resided in the United States of America but are classified as non-resident by the American authorities; his views that this situation is fair given that the relevant applicants are Irish and EU citizens who are not legally resident in another country; the steps he intends to take to address this anomaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16129/12]

 176.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the directives he has issued to third level institutions as regards Irish and EU citizens who apply for postgraduate courses of study who have lived abroad in non-EU/EEA states but who are classified as non-residents by the immigration authorities of their current countries; if he will direct that these Irish citizens should be charged the EU/EEA rate of fees for postgraduate study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16130/12]

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 177.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if his attention has been drawn to a situation (details supplied) whereby a university refused to classify an individual as an EU resident and insisted on charging non-EU resident fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16131/12]

 188.  Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the reason Irish passport holders who have been abroad for three years or more have to pay significantly larger non-EU rates to partake in education courses when they return home to Ireland, while EU residents get to take advantage of the lower fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16352/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 to 177, inclusive, and 188 together.

Under the terms of my Department’s Free Fee Scheme the Exchequer meets the cost of tuition fees in respect of eligible students who are pursuing full-time undergraduate courses of study which are a minimum of two years duration in an approved higher education institution. The main conditions of the scheme are that students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

Higher education institutions are autonomous bodies and the criteria governing the level of tuition fees to be charged (EU or Non EU rate), in cases where undergraduate students do not qualify for free fees and in the case of postgraduate study, are determined by the institutions and accordingly I have no role in the matter.

Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2011, provides for tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including certain approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States and in non EU countries. Details are available on the Revenue Commissioners’ website at www.revenue.ie.


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