NUI Galway and the UNHCR have joined forces to create opportunities for refugee students to come to Ireland to study.
The University is taking part in the EU-PASSWORLD project, focusing on developing ways to create safe and legal routes for displaced people to get education scholarships in Ireland.
The aim is for NUI Galway to offer the first higher education scholarship to a refugee by the end of this year.
Only 5% of refugees have access to higher education worldwide, according to UNHCR, which has an enrolment target of 15 percent of young refugee women and men in higher and further education by 2030.
President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said that they have a responsibility to provide access and formal education pathways to support a refugee’s educational ambitions and skills development.
“The EU-PASSWORLD project provides a platform for educators, employers and the community to work together towards a sustainable solution,” said Prof hÓgartaigh.
The project builds on other successful programmes from Italy, Germany and Canada, which have seen thousands of refugees arrive to work and study.
UNHCR will support third level institutions to set up dedicated application procedures in certain refugee hosting countries.
When refugees arrive in Ireland through the project, they will receive wrap-around integration support from members of their community, through a national programme called community sponsorship.
This form of integration has been noted for improving outcomes for refugees, enriching and strengthening host communities, in addition to improving narratives towards refugees and migration.
Professor Ó hÓgartaigh added that the partnership with the EU-PASSWORLD project seeks to provide such educational opportunities through the University of Sanctuary commitments.
He said that this will in turn will enrich their student experience through diversity and internationalisation.
“The EU-PASSWORLD project reflects our values of respect, openness, inclusivity and sustainability through increased social responsibility and a commitment to humanitarianism while creating a more welcoming society.
“In collaboration with our industry partners, this initiative also aligns with our commitments to broaden access through the provision of Medtronic funded University of Sanctuary scholarships and Merit Medical’s support of the Youth Academy programme which offers 25% of places on a scholarship basis to participants from DEIS schools.”