A provision which obliged asylum seekers here to pay inflated fees for Post Leaving Certificate courses has been dropped for many.

Students living in Direct Provision currently have to pay fees of €3,600 annually in order to access PLC courses.

This so-called "international rate" compares to a charge of around €200 for Irish and other EU citizens.

Today the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman, announced that from this September the €3,600 charge will no longer apply to international protection applicants who have permission to work.

However this charge will continue to apply to some asylum seekers.

The Irish Refugee Council has said the policy would be even more effective if it was applicable to all protection applicants, not just those with permission to work.

The ministers have said that an examination will also be carried out this year with a view to extending the student support scheme to those who wish to carry out postgraduate courses and to an extension of English language supports.

The student support scheme offers similar supports to those available to undergraduates in the SUSI grant scheme.

The review of the student support scheme will examine the impact of the improvements made in 2020 and to look at the possibility of extending it to postgraduates.

Minister Harris said he hoped the changes would help more people access further and higher education in Ireland.

Minister O'Gorman said: "As a Government, we have made a commitment to introduce a new model of international protection that focuses on integration from day one. Removing the financial barrier attached to PLC courses for people in the international protection process reflects that commitment.

"It will support people to upskill and lead to increased opportunities for entry into further and higher education, supporting international applicants to live independently and continue with their lives."