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New four-year scholarships for asylum seekers and refugees

New four-year scholarships for asylum seekers and refugees
Dr Mairead Moriarty, Chair of the University of Limerick's Sanctuary steering committee, Tiffy Allen, Network Coordinator for City of Sanctuary Ireland, Professor Des Fitzgerald, President, University of Limerick and Donnah Vuma, Zimbabwe pictured attending a ceremony at University of Limerick where the University of Sanctuary award was officially presented to UL.
Wed, 20 Jun 2018

Today, United Nations World Refugee Day (20/06/18), University of Limerick (UL) announced that it will offer 15 new four-year undergraduate scholarships to refugees and asylum seekers beginning in September. This is in addition to 15 one-year Mature Student Access Certificate (MSAC) scholarships, which were first introduced last year for people living in Direct Provision.

Furthermore, funding has been committed for an additional cohort in the 2019/2020 academic year, bringing the total number of Sanctuary Scholarships at UL to 60 over the next two years.

Today’s announcement comes after UL was awarded University of Sanctuary status on World Refugee Day 2017 and announced the introduction of its Sanctuary Scholarships programme.

“UL is very proud of its University of Sanctuary status and is committed to continually broadening access to higher education across the entire population. We hope to enable as many students as possible who have the potential to go to university to make it there, in this case by removing insurmountable financial barriers,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Engagement at University of Limerick, Professor Kerstin Mey.

Overall, the number of scholarships offered to refugees and asylum seekers increases from 17 last year to 30 for the 2018/2019 academic year. This year there will be 15 one-year MSAC and 15 four-year undergraduate arts and business Sanctuary Scholarships offered. For the first time, this includes fee waivers for Leaving Certificate students who have applied through the Central Applications Office (CAO) to two of

UL’s largest programmes, Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS).

“Of course, we are delighted to be in a position to offer scholarships to mature students again this year on the MSAC one-year programme. However, it is really exciting to extend UL’s programme of scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers and offer young people, who are attending secondary school, the opportunity to carry on their studies at university with the security of knowing they have the support for the four-years of their undergraduate programme,” said Dr Máiréad Moriarty, Chair of the University of Limerick's Sanctuary steering committee.

“Without a scholarship, many young refugees and those young people seeking asylum and living in Direct Provision would not have the means to pay international fees to attend university in Ireland. UL is providing 10 fee waivers for mature applicants and five for Leaving Cert applicants to two of its most popular programmes. The BA and BBS offer our widest range of module choices and offer work placement opportunities as part of the CoOperative education programme here providing graduates with a wide range of skills and career opportunities,” Dr Moriarty continued.

The undergraduate Sanctuary Scholarships waive international fees for four years while the MSAC Sanctuary Scholarships comprise a fee waiver and a contribution towards travel, on-campus subsistence, stationery, printing and IT requirements.

“While UL is waiving the academic fees for its new undergraduate Sanctuary Scholarships, the university is keen to extend these to cover subsistence. With that in mind we’d love to hear from companies who would be interested in supporting these students, many of whom have overcome the most challenging and traumatic of circumstances, through their Corporate Social Responsibility divisions,” Dr Moriarty stated.

According to Sikhulekile Ruth Ndlovu, an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe who has been living in Ireland since 2015 and was a Sanctuary Scholar on the MSAC programme in 2017/2018: “I came to Ireland three years ago and I had not attended third-level education at home in Zimbabwe. The MSAC programme allowed me to experience student life and helped me to prepare for further education if it is something I am in a position to pursue. There were challenges such as personal issues but with determination to better myself, I managed to graduate with a Mature Student Access Certificate (MSAC) with top grades, something I am very proud of.”

Alongside the Sanctuary Scholarships, UL offers a wide range of undergraduate scholarships and non-traditional access routes to third-level education for Leaving Cert and mature students and students attending the university. UL offers academic scholarships, sports scholarships, women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics scholarships and the President’s Access Scholarships, amongst others.

Sanctuary Scholarship eligibility
To be eligible for a University of Limerick Sanctuary Scholarship, applicants must:
• be an international protection applicant or have been granted international protection (i.e. an asylum seeker, refugee, granted discretionary leave to remain (DLR) or have some other form of temporary status) or be a refugee who is unable to access student finance due to previous study;
• Have  completed the Leaving Certificate and/or a preparation to University course (e.g. MSAC);
• Have applied to University of Limerick through the CAO to study the BA Arts or BBS;
• Be attending a school, college, community or voluntary group, which can provide a reference in support of the application; and,
• Be unable to access mainstream funding, e.g. student finance or a local authority grant (Those who are classed as ‘care leavers’ and previously were under local authority care can also apply).

Applicants must meet these strict eligibility criteria and be in a position to verify their circumstances in order to apply. Applicants who do not meet the criteria will not be considered for the scholarship.

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. The MSAC certificates are valid for three years, which means that holders can use them to enter undergraduate courses in the university any year, over the next three years.