Asylum seekers face difficulties accessing third-level education

A daughter of asylum seekers was forced to squat with a friend for two years after she was accepted to Trinity College to study Medicine.

During a workshop with the Irish Refugee Council in DCU held recently, an asylum seeker spoke of the difficulties the children of asylum seekers in Direct provision face when trying to access third-level education in Ireland.

Asylum seekers are placed in Direct Provision while they wait for their claims of refugee status to be processed by the Reception and Integration Agency. They can spend up to ten years in Direct Provision and during such time, they are given accommodation, often in poor living conditions with families cramped into one bedroom; three set meals a day at set times; €19.90 a week per adult and €9.60 a week per child; and are prevented from working.

Asylum seekers must sign in and out of their centres as they come and go and can be kicked out if they fail to sign in for a number of days.

The woman’s daughter was accepted to study Medicine in TCD but because the family were living in a direct provision centre in Abbeyleix, County Laois and was unable to sign in on a daily basis, the daughter was kicked out of Direct Provision.

Many children who grow up in Direct Provision can’t access third-level education because they must pay international fees. Those who do get to study at third-level need to get a scholarship or find a philanthropist to fund them.

The workshop looked at the impact on the mental and physical health of those in Direct Provision and was organised by Health and Society student Cora O’Mahony as part of her final year project. She said: “I was interested in the health or refugees in Ireland and the effect that Direct Provision has on it and I hoped that by putting on a workshop more people may become more aware of what was going on and potentially influence their actions in the future.

“I thought the workshop was very interesting and the personal story had a big impact on me, very inspiring.”

Last week marked the 14th year of Direct Provision in Ireland, which was initially set up as a temporary solution to deal with the large numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Ireland, which has since decreased. There are currently over 4,000 people living in Direct Provision.

Asylum seekers flee their own countries to seek protection from persecution for their political opinion, race, religious beliefs, ethnicity or membership of a particular social group.

Aoife Mullen

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