The University of Limerick has been designated a University of Sanctuary in recognition of its initiatives welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into its University community. The award was officially presented to President of UL, Dr Des Fitzgerald at a special ceremony on United Nations World Refugee Day (Tuesday, June 20th).
Up to 17 scholarships are being made available to asylum seekers living in Direct Provision centres. From next year, refugees and asylum seekers currently in second-level education will also be eligible to apply for scholarships.
During the ceremony, scholarship recipient Donnah Vuma spoke about what the award means to her: “When one leaves behind their home they cannot leave their aspirations, hopes and dreams for their future.” The scholarship opportunity will allow Donnah to pursue her dream of a future in psychology. You can read more about Donnah in this interview with the Irish Times.
The ceremony began and ended with music, facilitated by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
AHSS Assistant Dean, International, Dr Mairead Moriarty, who led the University of Limerick Sanctuary steering committee, said:
“The current refugee crisis tests the inner strength of our educational culture. At the University of Limerick we firmly believe that a University education should be a possibility for all. We have been committed to providing access to our University for people from all backgrounds and we are delighted to extend this to people currently living in Direct Provision through our announcement of 17 sanctuary scholarships”.
On receiving the award, Dr Des Fitzgerald stated: “In being designated as a University of Sanctuary, UL has committed to a three-year action plan to promote access and to integrate those from a refugee and asylum background into third level education.”
Dr Fitzgerald also outlined a number of initiatives run by the university which engage with people seeking sanctuary in Ireland. The Faculty of AHSS is involved with a number of these projects. If you have any project ideas, please contact Dr Mairead Moriarty.
As part of their UL Engage module, our MA in TESOL students, led by Dr Mairead Moriarty, spent a number of weeks delivering three separate English language courses to refugees and asylum seekers currently living in the Limerick region. On May 22nd, the Faculty held a graduation ceremony at UL for the participants, where our MA students presented their own students with certificates.