On Monday 29th January the Open Education team in the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) was delighted to host our 10 “University of Sanctuary” scholarship recipients studying online through DCU Connected. The students who travelled from different locations around Ireland were invited to Dublin to participate in the University’s launch of “Refugee Week”.
A range of activities taking place over the week will help raise awareness of the issues and challenges facing people who are currently living in Direct Provision centres in Ireland. The Student’s Union, for example, is leading the #€21.60 campaign with a number of students accepting the challenge of living on €21.60 per week and documenting their experiences on social media. The launch also coincided with the release of the DCU University of Sanctuary Annual Report which provides an update on a number of strategic initiatives DCU has adopted over the past 12 months, and beyond, to support asylum seekers and refugees.
During the launch our University of Sanctuary Online Scholars were pleased to meet Professor Brian MacCraith, DCU’s President, and share some of their personal stories of the joys and challenges of learning online with the wider DCU community.
The opportunity to come together as DCU’s inaugural group of University of Sanctuary Online Scholars also provided a good chance to reflect on their learning experiences, celebrate their individual and collective successes, and share ideas and suggestions for the next semester. By the end of the day our team was both humbled and inspired by the drive, passion and strong commitment shown by our Online Scholars as they strive to improve their lives and in their own words, “become valued citizens who make a significant contribution to Ireland”.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the support our University of Sanctuary Scholars have received from eBay, Vodafone and the DCU Educational Trust which has contributed to their successful learning experiences over the first Semester. We look forward to hearing more success stories as the students continue their study and news of further scholarships for online study for asylum seekers and refugees.