On 20 December 2016, at a coffee morning organised in DCU’s Inter Faith centre, the university’s President, Professor Brian MacCraith, announced that the university had committed itself to becoming a university of Sanctuary.
In response to the war in Syria and the migrant crisis, the President, staff and students in DCU decided to take their already considerable pro-refugee activities up a level, and “do something more tangible” to help refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants here in Ireland.
In order to become a university of sanctuary, the university has made the following action plans, which have been formally approved by Places of Sanctuary Ireland:
1.The”Access” Scholarship programme will offer 5 scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers on campus and a further 10 scholarship provided for online learning.
2. DCU will build a live practical support link with Mosney Direct Provision Centre, starting with the book club and free language classes taught by DCU students, and extending to other accommodation centres.
3. There will be an annual designated Refugee Week, including lectures by refugees and cross departmental awareness raising for migrants issues each year. The dates of the first, to be announced in the new year, will probably be April 2017.
4. The university will commit itself to research projects around forced migration and related issues.
5. DCU will take an ongoing strategic approach to being an University of Sanctuary, with refugee staff, students and representatives from Mosney joining in the steering committee .
In the end, Professor McCraith stressed that the commitment “to become a University of Sanctuary is not a final destination; it is an important milestone” in DCU’s journey to break down barriers and support refugees and other migrants to be integrated as much as they can. It is hoped that other universities will be inspired and challenged by this example to follow suit.
The coffee morning also fund raised for Human Appeal , a Charity organisation currently working on distributing food to people in need in Syria.