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 University of Sanctuary award was officially presented to President of UL, Dr Des Fitzgerald at a special ceremony on United Nations World Refugee Day (Tuesday, June 20).
“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 stated.
Dr Fitzgerald also outlined a number of initiatives run by the university which engage with people seeking sanctuary in Ireland. He described the award as a “huge honour for UL” adding “we will use this award to be a regional leader in promoting a culture of welcome, and to provide a space for the celebration of the richness and diversity a multilingual and multicultural group brings to our community, both culturally and economically”.
“We also pledge to use our knowledge and commitment to be a key driver in the movement to have the Limerick region designated as a Place of Sanctuary, promoting the integration, inclusion and welfare of refugees and asylum seekers for the benefit of society as a whole,” Dr Fitzgerald continued.
Up to 17 scholarships are being made available for students on the Mature Student Access Certificate (MSAC) and the Higher Level Leaving Certificate Mathematics Programme for Adult Learners (HLLCMP). Fourteen offers for places on the Mature Student Access Certificate are in the process of being issued and the remaining scholarships will be awarded in coming weeks, subject to applicant eligibility for the programme. All scholarships are being offered to asylum seekers living in direct provision centres.
The MSAC is run by the Mature Student Office and the HLLCMP is run by the Mature Student Office in collaboration with the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB).
The Mature Student Access Certificate (MSAC) is a one year full-time pre-degree course designed for mature students who wish to develop or refresh key learning skills, and to undertake some foundation level academic studies, before applying directly for a degree programme.
From next year, refugees and asylum seekers currently in second-level education will also be eligible to apply for scholarships.
Dr Mairead Moriarty, Chair of the University of Limerick’s 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”.