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Around 3,000 Ukrainian students and researchers ask about continuing studies in Ireland


Pic shows ( l to r ) President of Maynooth University, Prof Eeva Leinonen; Minister Simon Harris, Ukrainian Ambassador Larysa Gerasko. PIC: MAXWELLS

Pic shows ( l to r ) President of Maynooth University, Prof Eeva Leinonen; Minister Simon Harris, Ukrainian Ambassador Larysa Gerasko. PIC: MAXWELLS

Pic shows ( l to r ) President of Maynooth University, Prof Eeva Leinonen; Minister Simon Harris, Ukrainian Ambassador Larysa Gerasko. PIC: MAXWELLS

About 3,000 Ukrainian students and researchers have made enquiries about using Ireland as their base in the next academic year.

For some it may mean entry to full time courses in Ireland, others may be interested in part-time study or completing a particular module and some want a quiet space from which to continue their work online with their Ukrainian university.

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said that Ukrainian students taking up places in Ireland would be treated as if they were on the Erasmus+ study abroad programme, the supports for which are slightly better than if they were awarded a grant from the Government’s student support agency, Susi.

Mr Harris will bring proposals to Cabinet this week in relation to the supports for Ukrainian third-level students and researchers who have come to Ireland to escape the conflict at home. It will mean that a student who comes from Ukraine is treated like an Irish student and will not be liable for international fees and can access financial support through the Erasmus+ programme.

He added: “We've worked very hard as a country to put forward the arguments at a European level, an argument that's been successful, that the students should be funded through Erasmus. It just so happens that the Erasmus level of funding is roughly the same, actually marginally higher than the Susi student grants supports.

“We want to make sure that any student and any researcher who comes to Ireland can continue their academic studies. We cannot allow Putin's will of depriving Ukraine of the next generation of leadership be achieved and we're going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that people can continue their education.”

Mr Harris said that whatever their individual education needs, they would be accommodated by the system in Ireland.

The Minister said work was also continuing to accommodate Irish dentistry and medicine students who had been studying in the Ukraine. He said they were in touch with each student directly and were putting in place a plan for each of them.

Enquires from Ukrainian students and researchers are being handled by the National Student and Researcher (NSR) helpdesk , which is hosted by Maynooth University (MU), and has seconded people from across the university sector to work on the initiative.

Mr Harris, whose department funds the initiative, visited MU to mark on World Refugee Day, to meet with helpdesk staff. About 900 people have contacted the helpdesk directly, through phone or email, but Mr Harris said from other contacts, they believed about 3,000 Ukrainian students or researchers have explored possibilities in Ireland.

“That doesn't necessarily result in 3,000 people wanting to go forward with it, but about 3,000 students and researchers is the number we're aware of currently,” he said

The minister said the Government had been unequivocal in its welcome for people fleeing Ukraine and was determined to deliver on its obligations to support access to education. He said the helpdesk was an important example of collaboration across the sector to assist the people of Ukraine.

MU president Professor Eeva Leinonen said the invasion of Ukraine “reminds us that whether they occur in Europe or anywhere in the world, violent acts that threaten democracy, trample free will and block access to essential goods and services are an affront to human rights and must be confronted.”

She said as a University of Sanctuary, Maynooth was committed to promoting a culture of welcome for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants into the university community.

Among those attending the event was Afghan agriculture and environmental engineering scholar Dr Abdul Aziz Mohibbi, former chancellor of Bamyan University. Dr Mohibbi and his family have been refugee status in Ireland.

MU partnered with Trinity College Dublin and the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) to bring Dr Mohibbi to Ireland from Afghanistan. Ireland is one of the first countries internationally that has managed to successfully relocate and employ a ‘scholar at risk’ from Afghanistan after the recent change of regime

MU’s vice-president for equality and diversity, Dr Gemma Irvine, said they were “delighted to welcome such a prestigious scholar as Dr Mohibbi, into our community.”

The Co Kildare university is very involved with Scholars at Risk (SAR) - an international network of higher education institutions and individuals working to protect threatened scholars and to promote academic freedom and we’re proud to be at the heart of this initiative in Europe - and hosts the Europe Office.

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