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TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN UNIVERSITY OF SANCTUARY CEREMONY

TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN UNIVERSITY OF SANCTUARY CEREMONY

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university, became the seventh Irish university to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary at an online ceremony on 19th February. The Provost, Professor Patrick Prendergast, welcomed the recognition as a necessary step in the process of TCD becoming a culturally diverse university open to all people regardless of race, ethnicity or nationality. He spoke of the need for a compassionate response by Irish universities to refugee students, and of TCD’s developing programme of access scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers.

The acting chair of Places of Sanctuary Ireland, Andy Pollak, outlined the aims and activities of a University of Sanctuary. He emphasised that the “vital work” of Universities of Sanctuary Ireland had been recognised in the July 2020 Programme for Government, which had committed to increased supports for people in Direct Provision to access third level education. This has meant a change of government policy so that any asylum seeker in Ireland for three years who is offered a place at a third level institution through the CAO system, will now get the same financial and other supports as an Irish student.

The highlight of the ceremony was the showing of ‘Flight’, a short film made by Professor Michelle D’Arcy of the TCD Department of Political Science, which began with African refugees fleeing hunger and persecution and receiving a hostile reception in their country of sanctuary, and then half-way through switched to the experience of refugees from the Irish Famine of 1845-1849 fleeing to equally unwelcoming England and America. Schools of Sanctuary Ireland plans to use this film in future education programmes.

Comments from Asylum Seekers who Attended:
For me, Trinity being a University of Sanctuary is one of the best news ever! Trinity has always been a university I’d love to go and has always been a dream for me as an asylum seeker. Now that it’s a University Of Sanctuary, I feel my dream of becoming a Trinity student is getting closer to reality. I believe that Trinity has made a great decision in being a University Of Sanctuary because it’s giving people like me the opportunity to access high quality education and will open so many doors for us in the future. And as a globally-recognized university with a huge, diverse community, I believe Trinity has taken a huge step in becoming an even greater university than it is now. (Reem, age 18)

Trinity becoming a School of Sanctuary is a big step in the sanctuary movement. As a Leaving Cert Student who is an asylum seeker, I was very stressed and scared of how the exams would go and if universities would even accept me for who I am. This news excited me and made me more motivated to work harder on going to a top university and believe that there are places that would accept people like me from all backgrounds. (Raneem, age 18)
The highlight of the ceremony was the showing of ‘Flight’, a short film made by Professor Michelle D’Arcy of the TCD Department of Political Science, which began with African refugees fleeing hunger and persecution and receiving a hostile reception in their country of sanctuary, and then half-way through switched to the experience of refugees from the Irish Famine of 1845-1849 fleeing to equally unwelcoming England and America. The parallel experiences were graphically portrayed in the film, which Schools of Sanctuary Ireland plans to use in future education programmes.

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