ICOS voices concerns to Minister over difficulties facing international students in access PPSN and Government supports

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Last Friday ICOS Executive Director, Sarah Lennon, wrote to the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection to raise concerns over the difficulties facing international students and the challenges many have in trying to obtain a PPS number or access State supports.


Dear Minister Doherty,

I am writing to you today on behalf of  the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), to raise our concerns relating to the situation facing many international students currently in Ireland.

ICOS recently completed a survey of international students in both higher education and English language schools and some of the findings are cause for concern. We learned that 21% of third-level students and 8% of English language students have lost their job but have not accessed the pandemic payment. A further number said that they were looking for work but did not have a PPS number.

Our survey also demonstrated that recently arrived English language students felt particularly vulnerable, many of these students cannot access a PPS number and are not eligible to access the pandemic payment or jobseekers payments. 

As a way of removing the barriers to accessing information relating to payments and supports, ICOS would like to ask you to provide information in different languages in order to make the payment more accessible to international students, along the lines of the HSE’s response.

While the ban on evictions during the pandemic is welcome, the capacity of international students to pay back-rent having lost or failed to gain employment will be a challenge and many students may require state supports such as Exceptional Needs Payments.  

One of the respondents to the survey said “What we want is just the regularization of documents. There is no standardization in the PPSN process and no guidance, some people are successful with some criteria and others are denied, respecting the same criteria. We are unable to apply to the few job vacancies that arise because they only hire those who have PPSN and, at the same time, are only giving PPSN to those who are working”

Accessing a PPS number is crucial to accessing supports, including the Exceptional Needs Payment, which many international students may need to avail of, ICOS asks that you remove barriers to accessing a PPS number by producing clear information, in several languages, on how to access a PPS number.

Kind regards,

Sarah Lennon


For further information contact:

Brian Hearne

Communications Officer

Irish Council for International Students


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