Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan has said she is determined that students who have been in the asylum system in Ireland for five years will be entitled to pay the same fees as Irish students from September.

Ms O'Sullivan said that retired Judge Brian McMahon is "currently chairing a working group exploring the broader issue of supports for asylum seekers.

"I know that group will report in the coming weeks, and I hope that it will agree with the approach I have outlined today", she said. 

Currently, asylum-seeking students wishing to go on to third-level are treated as international students.

This means they face higher fees, which tends to be prohibitive when it comes to furthering their education.

There are over 4,000 asylum seekers living in direct provision centres across the country.

Last year, residents at direct provision centres staged protests objecting to delays in processing their applications for asylum.

Under the current direct provision system, asylum seekers are placed in full-board accommodation centres and not allowed to work.

Instead they receive a weekly payment of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 for every child.