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UCC named University of Sanctuary, launches scholarship scheme for refugees

14 Feb
UCC’s Senior Vice President, Professor Caroline Fennell: 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. Photo: Tomás Tyner.

Seven asylum seekers and refugees will receive full scholarships enabling them to study at University College Cork, which has been designated University of Sanctuary status.

Set to be provided from September 2018, the scholarships will cover full fees and tuition, in addition to a number of annual bursaries covering travel and expenses.

UCC’s 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, according to UCC’s Senior Vice President, Professor Caroline Fennell.

“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.

“Through the range of initiatives cultivated over many years in UCC, we [UCC] are dedicated to providing spaces to learn about what sanctuary means, to develop a sustainable culture of welcome, and to share our practices and initiatives with communities and other higher education institutions”.

Cultural and financial barriers to accessing third level education impact heavily on asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland. UCC has joined DCU and UL as universities leading the way in Ireland by being awarded University of Sanctuary status by Places of Sanctuary Ireland.

The University will launch its inaugural Refugee Week next month, with events from February 5 to 9 including a lecture by UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration, Professor Alison Phipps, titled ‘What is Refuge? Who Decides, and How?’ on February 6.

UCC's President, Professor Patrick O’Shea, will open 'Blueprints', an art exhibition by young asylum seekers at the Glucksman gallery on February 7. ‘Sorry I Drowned’, a film by Studio Kawakeb and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will be screened throughout the week at the Glucksman, while Sam Taylor, Director of MSF Ireland, will be part of a public discussion of the film on February 8. 

For the past two decades, many members of UCC staff and student societies have been engaging with local asylum seeker and refugee communities on the challenges they face, and have been bringing the impact of Direct Provision to national and international attention.

UCC

UCC lecturers Dr Jacqui O’Riordan and Mike FitzGibbon, who have campaigned through grassroots organisations for an end to the Direct Provision system, were presented with UCC Exceptional Citizen Awards recently for their work in supporting asylum seeker children and adults living in Direct Provision.

O’Riordan and FitzGibbon have conducted research on living in Direct Provision, and have worked with student societies and the Glucksman to organise activities for children and young people to articulate their stories and gain respite from accommodation centres.

For media queries, contact Lynne Nolan, Media & PR Officer, UCC: 089 233 1066. 

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