In order to qualify for funding towards tuition fees, 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. This eligibility requirement is important in order to ensure that public funding is targeted in the first instance at students that have a legitimate connection with Ireland and with the Irish education system.
Where students do not qualify for free fees funding they must pay the appropriate fee - either EU or Non-EU, as determined by each higher education institution. These institutions are autonomous bodies and the level of fee payable by students who do not meet the requirements of the free fees scheme is a matter for the relevant institution to determine.
Tax relief is available on fees paid and students can apply to the Student Assistant Fund for financial support if needed.
There are currently no plans within my Department to amend the qualifying criteria of the free fees schemes.