Altamash Shaikh, an asylum seeker from Mumbai, India, has been awarded a full academic scholarship to study Business & Law (BBL) at University College Dublin, a report from Irish Legal News has revealed. 

Before attaining his scholarship, Shaikh participated in open and lifelong learning programmes offered by the UCD Access and Lifelong Learning Centre and also studied for a QQI Level 5 Certificate in Business Studies at Drogheda Institute of Further Education (DIFE) usually “coming home after a full day of classes at midnight”. Resulting from these efforts, Shaikh was offered a choice to study for free and to degree level at either UCD or Trinity College Dublin which he remarks as “both [his] top choices”. Explaining his choice of the BBL programme, he commented that the course “will provide me with many options” and allow him pursue his interest in both corporate law and consulting. Further adding that, “I did not want to be a person graduating with just a business degree – I wanted to be open towards my career. I wanted to have both skills and prove versatility to my employers, as this degree is 50-50 until third year.”

Altamash’s achievement is even more pronounced in light of the conditions he lived and studied for his Leaving Certificate whilst in the Mosney, Co. Meath direct provision centre. Sharing his experiences to The Irish Times last year, Shaikh said that, “When I stay in Mosney, it’s a dilemma, it’s just so different to the outside world. It’s so far out in the country, even to get to the bus stop you have to walk 25 minutes to the junction. Kids living here don’t have a normal childhood, they’re isolated. It takes a toll on your mental and physical health”. Leaving India in 2017, he was forced to abandon his secondary school studies and enter afresh the Leaving Cert cycle in order to sit final exams. 

UCD currently offers 50 places on its ‘Sanctuary Programme’ to refugees, asylum seekers and those with subsidiary protection or humanitarian leave to remain. These places are spread across University Access, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and provided free tuition and financial assistance to eligible applicants. 

Rowan Kelleher – Assistant News Editor