University College Cork will be joining Dublin City University and the University of Limerick to become Universities of Sanctuary. Seven asylum seekers and refugees will receive full scholarships enabling them to study at University College Cork (UCC).
Speaking to the Journal.ie, UCC'S Director of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Karl Kitching said the decision was hugely significant and would help asylum seekers overcome the "financial and cultural constraints" they face attaining a third level education in Ireland.
The first of the annual scholarships will come into effect from September 2018. The scholarship will cover full fees with annual bursaries for travel and expenses. According to Kitching, people stuck in Direct Provision are not aware of what is available to them and the cost of attending college is often out of the question:
Young people can be extremely demoralised from their experience in Direct Provision…People’s dreams are dashed. Regardless of how long you’re in the school system, it can be extremely demoralising to do your Leaving Cert and know you can’t afford to get into the colleges your friends will be going to.
Applications for the scholarships will open this summer and pre-entry support workshops will be held to help students apply. Students can apply via the CAO system and must be under 23 years of age on 1 January 2018 to apply.
Currently, around 5,000 asylum seekers are currently living in Direct Provision centres around the country. People in the centres are provided with meals and given a weekly allowance of just €21.60. The system was set up as a six-month measure 17 years ago.