Fourteen Irish Travellers have been recognised at a special ceremony after completing NUI Galway Access Centre’s first Educational Transition Project.
The Traveller students received certificates of completion at the ceremony which took place at the University.
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris sent a video message to the students saying they should be very proud.
“We are very proud of you and all that you have achieved. I applaud you on reaching this major milestone,” said Minister Harris.
“My belief is that further and higher education is for everyone and our mission as a Department is to make sure that no-one is left behind.”
Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar of NUI Galway, presented the students with their certificates.
“This programme builds on NUI Galway’s values of ambition, creativity, impact, collaboration and integrity through a supportive student-centred approach that connected with students at a community level,” said Professor Ó Dochartaigh.
“It is wonderful to see these 14 students now taking their first steps towards third level education.”
The Educational Transition Project for Traveller students was developed to build on current initiatives and work directly with community organisations in supporting members of the Traveller community to progress to higher education.
NUI Galway’s Access Centre held a series of consultation meetings with stakeholders including Traveller organisations, community groups, Galway Roscommon Education Training Board and Traveller students in order to inform and support the design and implementation of the programme.
Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager NUI Galway Access Centre, said: “The Educational Transition Project is multi-disciplinary and is designed to support Traveller students to achieve their desired educational goals, whether they are school leavers or mature students.
“This programme represents an important intervention in ensuring Traveller students access higher education.
“The success of this year’s programme and the feedback we have received will enable us to develop the initiative further for next year.”
The programme commenced in early June 2021 and was delivered online three days a week over five weeks, due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Owen Ward, Programme Co-ordinator, NUI Galway Access Centre, said: “These students are inspirational role models.
“Despite the additional obstacles they faced as a result of the pandemic, they remained committed to completing the programme.
“The Access Centre will continue to support these students as they progress in education. This initiative further demonstrates NUI Galway’s commitment to widening the participation of Irish Travellers in third level education.”