TUS raises peace flag in solidarity with refugees in education

pICTURED, L-R, Mary Bohan - TUS Access Office Administrator, Marta Johnston TUS Community Connector, College Connect Access Programme, Folake Ajayi - TUS Student, Jenny Burke TUS Access Officer (Athlone), John McKenna - TUS Vice President for Strategy Transitions and Projects, Frances O’Connell - TUS Vice President Student Education and Experience, Segametsi Kandjise - TUS Student, Naima Khiter - TUS Student, Treacy McIntyre TUS Societies Officer, Mary Treacy - TUS Traveller Support Worker, Athlone Access Office -TUS Athlone Campus. Photo by Nathan Cafolla

pICTURED, L-R, Mary Bohan - TUS Access Office Administrator, Marta Johnston TUS Community Connector, College Connect Access Programme, Folake Ajayi - TUS Student, Jenny Burke TUS Access Officer (Athlone), John McKenna - TUS Vice President for Strategy Transitions and Projects, Frances O’Connell - TUS Vice President Student Education and Experience, Segametsi Kandjise - TUS Student, Naima Khiter - TUS Student, Treacy McIntyre TUS Societies Officer, Mary Treacy - TUS Traveller Support Worker, Athlone Access Office -TUS Athlone Campus. Photo by Nathan Cafolla

In a powerful display of solidarity with refugees and migrants in education, Technological University of the Shannon (TUS ) raised a white peace flag across its campuses in the Midlands and Midwest.

This initiative, undertaken jointly with the University of Sanctuary Ireland and UNHCR Ireland, celebrates Refugee Solidarity in Education.

The symbolic gesture underscores TUS’s commitment to welcoming and supporting refugees and migrants within its educational community.

TUS, having received its University of Sanctuary designation on World Refugee Day in June 2022, leads the way as the first technological university in Ireland to achieve this honour.

Under this designation, TUS has implemented a comprehensive three-year plan aimed at improving access to higher education for those seeking sanctuary and promoting intercultural awareness.

TUS President Professor Vincent Cunnane, who raised the peace flag at TUS Moylish Campus, called it a symbol of welcome and hope.

“Raising the peace flag is a message of welcome to those seeking sanctuary in our education systems. Education has the power to give hope and opportunity to those who are forced to restart their lives in a new country, and we want to send a clear message: you are welcome here.

“As a designated University of Sanctuary, TUS is proud to show leadership in promoting equitable access to higher education for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants. Our commitment to inclusivity and diversity within our educational community is fundamental to our mission, and initiatives like today’s flag-raising reflect a broader ethos of social responsibility and community engagement,” Professor Cunnane said.

Frances O’Connell, Vice President for Student Education and Experience at TUS, who led the flag-raising ceremony at TUS Athlone Campus, highlighted the critical role of universities in addressing the complex challenges brought forth by refugee crises.

“Universities have a profound responsibility to respond to the pressing issues faced by refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. At TUS, we prioritise creating a welcoming environment that demonstrate our values of inclusion, support, and ambition for those from the migrant and international protection system who are seeking sanctuary though access to higher education.

“Education plays a pivotal role in rebuilding lives and fostering integration. By offering comprehensive support and resources, we aim, through our University of Sanctuary Scholarship Programme, to facilitate enrolments from eligible students in direct provision centres in the environs of our campuses and their academic progression and success that empowers them to contribute meaningfully to society,” Ms O’Connell added.

TUS offers 10 Sanctuary Scholarships per academic year for students from refugee backgrounds wishing to complete an undergraduate programme; It also offers 10 Sanctuary Scholarships to those coming through the TUS Access Programme.

This one-year access programme, delivered on both TUS’s Athlone and Limerick campuses, equips candidates with the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence - spanning computing, basic information technology skills, science, engineering, business, and humanities - to progress to third-level education at TUS.

Both scholarship provisions cover all tuition and registration fees along with a subsistence support stipend.

TUS is planning to expand its scholarship offerings to include access to postgraduate programmes with the support of private philanthropy and industry engagement.

Beyond scholarships, TUS engages in various initiatives, such as hosting an annual International Refugee Week and integrating refugee studies into its curricula.

The multi-campus university also has Sanctuary societies, founded in 2023, which welcome refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants into the university community across all TUS campuses, providing a network of friends who encourage, understand and support one another.

 

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