University College Cork has been granted the status of “University of Sanctuary” and will provide seven asylum seekers and refugees with full scholarships from September.
The scholarships will cover full fees and tuition, in addition to travel and expenses.
The university joins Dublin City University and the University of Limerick who have previously received University of Sanctuary status from Places of Sanctuary Ireland.
Applications for the scholarships will open this summer. Students can apply via the CAO system and must be under 23 years of age on 1 January 2018 to apply.
UCC’s Senior Vice President Professor Caroline Fennell says its Sanctuary Status is a marker not just of what has been achieved in UCC “but an indicator of the need for sustained and creative work to support asylum seekers and refugees locally and internationally.”
“Universities provide a key space in which to challenge societal assumptions and to support and highlight work aimed at fostering a culture of welcome for asylum seekers and refugees” said Fennell.
For the past two decades, UCC staff and student societies have been engaging with local asylum seeker and refugee communities on the challenges they face living in the Direct Provision system.
What was supposed to be a temporary measure set up by the government has now been in existence for almost twenty years.
While living in direct provision centres, residents receive a weekly allowance of €21.60 per person and are not entitled to work, thus relying completely on the State.
Asylum-seeking children can attend primary and secondary school. However, they are unable to access third level education as they face paying full fees of over €10,000, which isn’t an option.
DCU was granted the status of “University of Sanctuary” in December 2016. It was the first Irish university to receive the designation, awarded by the City of Sanctuary, an organisation that supports efforts in the UK and Ireland to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary.
According to the first annual “University of Sanctuary” report by DCU, fifteen scholarship students enrolled at the university since September 2017.
Image Credit: Irish Mirror