Employment and Learning Minister, Dr. Stephen Farry, today announced the opportunity for refugees in Northern Ireland to undertake English classes in further education colleges, free of charge.
This brings arrangements for refugees into line with those already in place for asylum seekers and those granted humanitarian protection. The policy does not apply to economic migrants.
Minister Farry said: “I believe it is in the public interest for government to do all in its power to help people who settle here to integrate into Northern Ireland society. The opportunity to learn English is, of course, critical in assisting asylum seekers and refugees to settle quickly and make a positive contribution to our economy and wider society.
The measures I have announced today ensure that no one who comes to Northern Ireland seeking refuge from persecution or war is disadvantaged simply because their immigration status.“Last November, I put in place initial arrangements to make a positive contribution to the resettlement of Syrians granted humanitarian protection under the terms on the Home Office Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme by offering free English classes at further education colleges to those who want them. I took this decision because of the imminent arrival of the first group to resettle here.
“At the same time, in line with representations from those working with refugees, I initiated a review into arrangements for all refugees. Analysis indicates that demand for provision is relatively small so any additional costs will be affordable within the Department’s budget. In this context, I am pleased to be able to extend this opportunity to all of those with refugee status.”