Dublin City University’s designation as Ireland’s first ‘University of Sanctuary’ is a point of great pride for a university community that has long been committed to transforming lives and societies. The refugee crisis in Europe of recent years has posed serious challenges in terms of the role and response of a modern, engaged, European university. The University of Sanctuary agenda demonstrates DCU’s desire to provide a transformative student experience which pursues active engagement with our communities.
There are currently over 7,000 people living in Direct Provision in Ireland, which houses asylum seekers entering the Irish State in search of international protection. Asylum seekers receive a very limited weekly stipend of €38.80 per adult per week from the state, and face major obstacles to accessing third level education and employment. Asylum seekers are obliged to pay international fees, often in excess of €15,000 per year, while also having to overcome significant practical challenges (paperwork, transport, access to technology etc). Without these supports, university education is not an option for most.
Underpinned by a commitment to welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into the university community, and fostering a spirit of inclusion for all, DCU is providing a variety of responses to these challenges by offering truly transformative opportunities that enable asylum seekers to study at DCU. Each year DCU offers support packages to 5 undergraduate students to study on campus and also to 10 students following online degree programmes.
These students receive fee-waivers, funded by DCU, and are integrated into the existing support infrastructures for disadvantaged students at DCU. DCU Educational Trust continuously seeks philanthropic support to cover the additional costs needed to support the University of Sanctuary students.