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Ireland extends post-study rules for int’l students in response to Covid-19

The Irish government has made a concession for international students that will allow them to access graduate work opportunities in the country, even if they have been studying remotely in semester two. 

Int'l students can apply for the country’s Third Level Graduate Programme, even if they have been studying remotely in semester 2. Photo: Pexels

"Students must provide a letter from their higher education institution stating that they were a student for the academic year 2020/2021"

“The Department of Justice agreed to a concession on a one off basis due to Covid-19”

The Third Level Graduate Programme allows non-EEA graduates holding an award of a recognised Irish awarding body to remain in Ireland after their studies and apply for employment opportunities.

The Irish government told The PIE News that a temporary concession has been agreed on to allow students to remain in their home countries and still apply for the scheme.  

“In order to minimise the number of students arriving in Ireland, and to protect public health, the Department of Justice reviewed the eligibility criteria for the third level graduate permission scheme (1G),” a spokesperson from The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science told The PIE. 

The one off concession – due to Covid-19 – will allow the 2020/21 international student cohort, otherwise eligible to apply for the third level graduate permission scheme, to “remain in or return to their own countries to study online for semester 2”, the spokesperson said.

“The amendments to the eligibility criteria will significantly reduce the number of students seeking to travel to Ireland up to the end of the academic year.”

In order to be eligible for the concession students must meet a range of existing and new criteria. 

Students who are currently studying remotely can apply for the scheme when they complete their course in summer 2021, if they provide a letter from their higher education institution stating that they were a student for the academic year 2020/2021. 

They must also provide a letter from their institution stating that their course was taught 100% remotely and that they were not required to attend classes in person. 

The new criteria means they must provide a letter from the relevant awarding body or institution saying that they have achieved the award for which they were enrolled as a student. 

“Employability and the option to seek work in Ireland after graduation is important to many of our international students”

Students who will have completed a one year masters with an Irish higher education institution, and were unable to travel to Ireland to register their permission as a student in the State (for academic year 2020/2021), will have to travel to Ireland prior to the issuance of their final results in order to register their permission and qualify for the Third Level Graduate permission Scheme.

“Employability and the option to seek work in Ireland after graduation is important to many of our international students, and is a key component of the Irish brand message and national strategy,” a spokesperson for University College Cork told The PIE. 

“Any policy decisions by the department that would reinforce these core values at what is an unprecedented time would be welcome.”

Douglas Proctor, director of UCD Global at University College Dublin, welcomed the recent decision, highlighting the high level of anxiety among current international students about their options on graduation. 

“As with other host countries for international students, many choose Ireland not only for the quality of the programs on offer and for the Irish cultural experience, but also for the opportunity to seek post-study employment. UCD receives excellent feedback on the opportunities that this opens up for Irish business and industry,” he said. 

The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science is currently in the developmental stages of drafting a new strategy for international education and research. The department told The PIE that it is envisaged this strategy will be published in the coming months.

“Any changes to post-study work rights in the future will be a matter for the Department of Justice,” a spokesperson said. 

Other countries have been tackling the question of how post-graduate work schemes will be implemented amidst disruption caused by Covid-19.  

Last month the Canadian government announced that international students completing their entire Canadian higher education program online from abroad will still be eligible for post-graduation work permits. 

Many students wanting to travel to Canada for their studies faced visa delays – it is hoped that the new rules will mean that students will not miss out on opportunities after they graduate due to the “myriad challenges” they have faced as a result of the pandemic.

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