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Tuesday, November 26 • 16:15 - 16:45
Providing open opportunities for access to higher education to refugees through an open education initiative: A Case Study of Dublin City University’s University of Sanctuary Scholarship programme

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The displacement crisis is one of the biggest global challenges of our time, with nearly 70 million people driven from their homes, mostly by conflict. Linking to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4, Quality Education, there is a collective responsibility to ensure that educational systems adapt to the needs of refugees to ensure this vulnerable group is visible and accounted for in educational provision.

In 2016 Dublin City University (DCU) was granted University of Sanctuary status and, to date, 23 refugees and asylum seekers have been granted scholarships. This paper examines the experiences of seven scholarship recipients in their first year of study on DCU Connected online programmes. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis in order to explore the experiences of these students and gain insights to support their transition, and the transition of future cohorts, into higher education. This is important in order to empower these students to have positive learning experiences such that they are led towards successful completion.

Findings indicate that participants feel a strong sense of belonging to the University, in opposition to their lives as asylum seekers or refugees. They identified ‘two separate worlds’; the ‘study world’, to which they belonged and the ‘asylum world’; a place they did not want to be. While participants were highly motivated, this was impacted by practical considerations such as finances, access to laptops, broadband, and bank accounts, and logistics of child care and travelling to the university. Participants relied on university supports, principally the team relating to their programme, and on peer support in order to facilitate progress through their studies.

The findings provide insights into how higher education institutions can develop effective policy, practices, and procedures to assist refugees integrating into higher education in order to facilitate successful completion.

avatar for James Brunton

James Brunton

Programme Chair/Director, Dublin City University
James has a BA (Hons) in Applied Psychology from University College Cork and a PhD in Social/Organisational Psychology from Dublin City University. Having previously worked as a lecturer and Programme Leader for two undergraduate Social Science Degrees in Dublin Business School's... Read More →

Orna Farrell

Dublin City University

Lorraine Delaney

Dublin City University
avatar for Mark Brown

Mark Brown

Professor of Digital Learning, National Institute for Digital Learning at Dublin City University
Mark is Ireland’s first Professor of Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University (DCU). He originally began his educational career as a primary teacher and now has over 25 years experience of working in Higher Education... Read More →
avatar for Eamon Costello

Eamon Costello

Head of Open Education, Dublin City University

Colum Foley

Dublin City University

Tuesday November 26, 2019 16:15 - 16:45 CET
BL28 ground floor classroom - Presentations