Great news, Trinity is the latest Irish University to offer free fees and other supports to students living in direct provision to help them pursue a third level education. Up to now at Trinity College Dublin young people in direct provision are classified as international students. As a result, these young people hoping for a better future do not even have the options of a third level education as it would mean paying the non-EU fees which are upwards of €20,000.
In an interview with HotPress, Provost of Trinity College, Dr. Patrick Prendergast described direct provision as 'a terrible thing'. Here are some key facts about direct provision to put into perspective just how terrible it is. Established in 2000, the direct provision system was established to house asylum seekers entering Ireland and was described as an 'interim' system which would provide accommodation for a six month period. According to an article from The Irish Times, residents in direct provision were spending an average of 23 months, while 432 had been in this 'temporary' system for five years or more. The personal allowance that is granted to adults is only €21.60 per week.
This latest move by Trinty is a small step towards addressing the issue of third level education being closed off to young people living in direct provision. The are a number of Irish universities that are part of The University of Sanctuary initiative that goes beyond financial support and includes measures such as outreach programmes in direct provision centres to raise awareness and encourage participation in higher education and English language classes. DCU was the first Irish University to receive this designation in 2016 in recognition of their commitment to a culture of inclusion for all. University of Limerick (UL), University College Dublin (UCD) and University College Cork (UCC) followed suit with 'sanctuary' designation, while NUI Galway and Maynooth University are currently striving for similar status.
Speaking to HotPress Dr Prendergast reflected on whether the government would be supportive of Trinity offering free scholarships for students living in direct provisions, he said
I suppose they’re worried that we might become known as a country that you come to as an asylum-seeking student and then get a free education. But would that be a bad thing?
We hope that Irish Universities continue to progress in being more inclusive to all.