Student asylum seekers who have been in the Irish school system for at least five years will be able to apply for student support to access third level education from 1 September.

This is part of a new scheme announced by Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan.

The scheme is the first of 172 recommendations contained in a recent report by a Government appointed Working Group on Ireland's Asylum System and Protection Process to be implemented.

In addition to accessing student support in line with the current Student Grant Scheme, eligible students will no longer be charged full international fees.

On 14 August a Department of Education spokesperson confirmed to RTÉ that the scheme would be in place for the academic year beginning next month.

Eligible student asylum seekers are those who have taken their Leaving Certificate exams who have been offered and have accepted a place on an approved undergraduate or post-Leaving Cert course.

The students must have been in the Irish school system for at least five years as of 31 August 2015.

To be eligible the students must have applied for asylum or had applied for leave to remain at least five years ago.

Another condition for a student to be eligible is that no deportation order must have been made against them.

Previously these students were charged full international fees of more than €10,000 a year.

The fees effectively precluded the majority of student asylum seekers from attending third-level education.

While students who have recently been granted refugee status or leave to remain will not qualify under the new scheme, they can apply for student supports in the normal way. 

A spokesperson from SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) confirmed that a student with refugee status or leave to remain who has been "ordinarily" resident in the State for at least three years can apply.

The time spent awaiting a decision on their status would count in this instance. 

A spokesperson said that the Department of Education wanted to thank the Higher Education Authority and the Higher Education Institutions for their cooperation in facilitating this.

Ms O'Sullivan had committed to changing the system at the TUI Congress in April.

She described the situation that had existed up to now as "particularly unfair".

Minister O'Sullivan said that the changes detailed would "bring certainty to a relatively small number of students who up until now have been marginalised despite their academic performance".