UCD has become the fourth Irish university to be awarded the ‘University of Sanctuary’ status. President Andrew Deeks was presented with the ‘University of Sanctuary’ certificate by Dr Veronica Crosbie, of Places of Sanctuary Ireland, in an event recently hosted on campus in the Sutherland School of Law. Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, gave a speech at the ceremony.

Deeks noted how the status was ‘awarded for our achievements in supporting refugees, asylum seekers, those with leave to remain and those with subsidiary protection.’ UCD has run a number of initiatives in the area. It recently began offering free fees to refugees and asylum seekers accepted to the university, as suggested by the UCD Refugee Working Group.

Deeks told staff in his Presidential Bulletin how the award ‘has come about because of the efforts of faculty, staff and students in UCD Volunteers Overseas, the UCD Centre for Humanitarian Action, the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Group, Fáilte Refugees, and many other individual and group efforts.’ He commented that UCD recognises ‘the benefit to be gained by both home and host nations in harnessing their skills and energy and improving their access to work and study within higher education.’

Deeks referred to Ireland’s branding as Ireland’s Global University, and stated ‘we seek to attract and retain students and faculty from across the world, in order to enable us to excel and to enable our people to fulfil their potential.’ UCD is ‘therefore actively involved in supporting scholars and workers seeking sanctuary in Ireland to progress their education and careers, to fulfil their potential and to make the contributions to our community and society that they are so eager and able to give.’

Universities of Sanctuary is part of the larger City of Sanctuary Network in Ireland and the UK, which was founded in 2005. The ‘University of Sanctuary’ status is also held by the University of Limerick (UL), University College Cork (UCC) and Dublin City University (DCU), which was the first university to receive the status in December 2016. UL was chosen in June 2017, while UCC picked up the award this January.

Cian Carton – Editor