World Refugee Day: DCU and FutureLearn announce 30 Refugee Scholarships

world-refugee-day-photos-download-1-1080x675.jpgWe are delighted to share the news on World Refugee Day that as Ireland’s first University of Sanctuary (UoS), Dublin City University (DCU) is launching in partnership with FutureLearn, a global leader in online social learning, 30 scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers. The joint DCU FutureLearn scholarship initiative will enable refugees and asylum seekers living in Ireland to undertake study from a wide range of courses offered on FutureLearn’s online platform though to certificates of completion.12790015_10153784985600342_457612615_o.jpg

Among the courses offered on FutureLearn is DCU’s ‘Irish 101’, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) launched earlier this year, and one of the first of its kind globally to offer an introduction to Irish language and culture. Associate Professor, Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Head of the Ideas Lab and the Fáilte ar Líne Project, at the National Institute for Digital Learning in DCU, remarked:

irish-101.jpg“We are delighted that ‘Irish 101: Introduction to Irish Language and Culture’ is a core component of this joint DCU & FutureLearn initiative. Not only will it support this community of learners as they connect with the Irish language and Irish culture, but it will also provide them with an opportunity to engage with learners from around the globe.” ‘Irish 101’ is co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as part of the 20-year Strategy For The Irish Language 2010-2030, supported by the National Lottery.

future-learn.pngAnnouncing the 30 new scholarships, Mark Lester, Director of Partnerships Development at FutureLearn, said: “DCU has long been a champion of online education in Europe. We are delighted to be building upon our partnership with DCU in providing 30 scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland, who will have an opportunity to access hundreds of flexible learning options.”

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Prof. Mark Brown, Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at DCU, commented: “DCU has, for many years, been a leader in developing new models of open and online learning as it endeavours to expand access to higher education. As Ireland’s first ‘University of Sanctuary’, our partnership with FutureLearn builds on our existing scholarships established last year to support Irish asylum seekers and refugees to complete online degrees through DCU Connected. While today’s announcement coincides with World Refugee Day, the latest DCU FutureLearn Scholarships are further evidence of our ongoing commitment to fostering a culture of inclusion. They mark an exciting new chapter to help enrich the lives and opportunities of Ireland’s refugee community.”

More information about this new scholarship initiative for Irish refugees and asylum seekers, including details of the application process, will be announced shortly.

University of Sanctuary Online Scholars join us for the Launch of DCU’s “Refugee Week”

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”.

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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.

IMG_5423.JPGDuring 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.
IMG_5421.JPGThe 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.