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MacJannet Prize Winner 2019

University of Sanctuary

MacJannet Prize Winner 2019

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University of Sanctuary

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Refugee Week 2022

Events 21st-26th Feb

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University of Sanctuary Initiative 

University College Cork was awarded 1st place winner of the prestigious Talloires Network Mac Jannet Prize 2019. The University of Sanctuary initiative is a UCC staff and student community outreach initiative, that brings UCC supports together with asylum seekers and refugees living in Direct Provision Centres in the Cork region. The main goal of the initiative is to establish UCC as a place of sanctuary for asylum seekers. It seeks to foster a culture of welcome for asylum seekers and refugees through a range of activities delivered across the university and cultivated over many years. The initiative was born from the belief that Universities provide a key space in which to challenge societal assumptions and promote inclusion. 

Formalised in 2014 at a university wide level, it is coordinated by a committee that includes staff, student and community members. The initiative draws its origins from community engaged research conducted by  staff members and our students activism. Activities are carried out in partnership with the asylum seeking community and with input from local civil society organisations that support them, particularly the Migrant Rights Centre, The Irish Immigrant Support Centre, the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland and the Cork City of Sanctuary programme.  This ensures the initiative is co-led with community and that there is a coordinated promotion of sanctuary across the Cork area.

Gallery Images by Tomás Tyner and courtesy of The Glucksman Gallery


  • UCC Exceptional Citizen Award presented to Dr Jacqui O' Riordain (School of Applied Social Studies) and Mr Mike Fitzgibbon (Food Business and Development Department) in recognition of their work with refugees and asylum seekers;
  • University of Sanctuary Status awarded in 2018 by Places of Sanctuary Ireland;
  • Increased access to higher education in Ireland, through provision of full University of Sanctuary Scholarships, helping to overcome significant legal, cultural and financial barriers to access;
  • Advocacy for national policy change in partnership with Cork City of Sanctuary, such as developing a Cork City of Sanctuary ‘Action Plan’, which has received a pledge of support from Cork City Council;
  • Promoting student engagement: leadership, volunteering, service learning and community engaged research.
  • UCC Fáilte Refugee (formerly UCC STAR Society, or Student Action for Refugees) is a student run society that campaigns for refugee and asylum seeker rights, educated fellow students and the wider community, fundraises and volunteers in a wide range of local refugee projects. The society and has over 500 student members.

  • BETTER TOGETHER - Better Together is a student-founded and run charitable organisation that works to empower women seeking asylum in Cork City and County. Its founder Vera Stajanovic is a UCC Quercus Active Citizen scholar and its board includes 3 asylum seekers, allowing the organisation to respond to needs identified by asylum seekers themselves. Recently its volunteers helped to implement an employment skills training course, which had over 40 women asylum seekers participating. Childcare and transport were provided free in partnership with local CSO’s.

  • COMMUNITY ACADEMIC RESEARCH LINKS (CARL) - CARL promotes student led community based participatory action research projects in collaboration with the Irish Immigrant Support Centre.

  • SERVICE LEARNING - Service learning initiatives include a Development Education programme (Integrating Critical Multicultural Education and Global Citizenship into Student Teacher Practice) that prepares UCC Student Teachers to work with refugee asylum seeker and migrant students.

  • GLUCKSMAN GALLERY CREATIVE AGENCY - The Glucksman Gallery increases visibility and empowers the creative agency of asylum seekers and refugees through community engaged arts practice. For example, its Navigating the Urban Landscape project engaged young people form Direct Provision Centres to tell their stories via an exhibition of their artwork at the gallery that had over 7,000 visitors.

  • UCC FRIENDS OF REFUGEES GROUP - The UCC Friends of Refugees group was established by Gertrude Cotter and other staff and students in 2015 to provide welcome and support to refugees coming to Cork. The group has now merged with other student and staff organisations

  • UCC REFUGEE WEEK - Each year UCC Refugee Week raises public awareness and consciousness, hosting a range of events designed to inform the University community and wider region about refugee and asylum issues and experiences.  


More Information

The University of Sanctuary Initiative is chaired by Dr Máire Leane from the UCC School of Applied Social Studies and includes representatives from UCC Student’s Union, the Fáilte Refugee Society, multiple academic and administrative offices and a range of external community members.  For more information on UCC University of Sanctuary Initiative please contact Dr Máire Leane at  

The Talloires Network

UCC is a member of the Talloires Network, an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. We work together to implement the recommendations of the Talloires Declaration and build a global movement of engaged universities. The MacJannet Prize was established by the Talloires Network and the MacJannet Foundation to recognize exceptional student community engagement initiatives at Talloires Network engaged member universities. In 2019 UCC nominated its University of Sanctuary Initiative for this prestigious award. 



Civic & Community Engagement

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