The Technological University of the Shannon (TUS ) has been designated a University of Sanctuary in recognition of its efforts to make higher education more welcoming and inclusive of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.
TUS is the first technological university in Ireland to receive this designation, which coincides with the United Nations’ World Refugee Day.
Under this designation, TUS will roll out a new three-year plan to help improve access to higher education for those seeking sanctuary in Ireland, as well as to promote intercultural awareness among staff, students and the wider community.
“At TUS, we are allies to asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants and are intent on broadening access to higher education for all who would benefit from it. Our application for University of Sanctuary reflects that commitment and we are honoured to receive this designation.
“In our application for designation as a technological university last year, we restated our commitment to welcoming those seeking sanctuary into our community. Under the direction of the TUS University of Sanctuary committee, we aim to play a leading role in supporting asylum seekers, refugees and migrants across the Midlands and Midwest,” TUS President Prof. Vincent Cunnane said.
Under the new designation, TUS will launch a University of Sanctuary Scholarship programme, which will see the technological university award 20 scholarships each year for the next three years – 10 to students pursuing a full-time CAO course and 10 to students embarking on the TUS Access programme.
This is an offering TUS intends to build upon in the future, expanding it to include postgraduate programmes, with the assistance of private philanthropy and with industry engagement and financial support.
“Refugee crises are one of the defining features of our time and as universities, occupying a privileged place in society, we have an important role to play in responding to the associated challenges these crises present.
“As a University of Sanctuary, we will welcome refugees, asylum seekers and migrants into our community as well as create opportunities and encourage student engagement with people from diverse cultural backgrounds beyond the university campus,” Frances O’Connell, VP of Student Education and Experience and chair of the TUS University of Sanctuary steering committee, said.
TUS already engages in a wide range of activities to support those seeking sanctuary, including the hosting of an annual International Refugee Week, community engagement with New Horizon, a local charity working with residents of direct provision, and the integration of refugee studies into syllabi.
“The application for University of Sanctuary designation was compiled with considerable engagement from staff across the six campuses of TUS, which gives evidence of enabling equality, diversity, inclusivity and social responsibility.
“We have a strong mission and team in place in TUS to ensure we are ready to welcome refugees, international protection applicants and migrants into our higher education community and to support them to achieve academic success,” Dr Chris McDermott, a law lecturer at TUS, explained.