A new campaign aimed at encouraging students to take action against the significant barriers preventing asylum seekers from taking up or completing third-level education has been launched by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) and student justice and equality organisation, STAND.
An online launch event took place last night (Monday, November 23) for Migrant Minds Matter, which will seek to promote unrestricted access to third-level education and comprehensive and meaningful supports for those living in Direct Provision.
Along with campaigning for an end to the Direct Provision system, Migrant Minds Matter will highlight how the institutional style of living with a lack of protections for physical, mental and emotional well-being is in itself a barrier to taking up third-level study and to students reaching their potential.
While many campuses have started implementing scholarships for those in Direct Provision, the number of places is extremely limited and do not go far enough to addressing the numerous other barriers, such as poor living conditions and the risk of deportation mid-study.
MASI activist, Amanda Nyoni said: “At MASI we have always advocated for, and continue to advocate for, unrestricted access to third-level education. We aim to see that all barriers, seen and unseen, are removed, and people are given an opportunity to begin on a level and equal playing field. To quote artist and activist, Lila Watson: “If you’ve come to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” The choices made today, will determine the quality of society tomorrow. It is with this in mind, that Migrant Minds Matter is such an invaluable campaign.”
USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, Marie Lyons said: “Access to education has the power to change a life, the Migrant Minds Matter campaign is striving to break down the barriers to accessing higher education for migrants, asylum seekers, those who are undocumented and all those within the Direct Provision system. Since our foundation, USI has fought to remove barriers to education and make higher education accessible to all. This important campaign will go further towards making educational accessible to all.”
As part of Migrant Minds Matter, students will be invited to engage in a number of actions from a list of resources on 10000students.ie, including signing and promoting a petition to the Irish government.
Campaign merchandise has also been launched, with funds raised going towards educational funds for MASI – available here.
Other key aims of Migrant Minds Matter:
- Provision of addition educational supports such as access to technology and adequate study spaces, which are difficult to access while living in direct provision
- Guidance and support for those in Direct Provision as to what third-level educational opportunities are available to them
- Tackling the recent tendency to locate Direct Provision centres in remote areas, which isolates many potential students and creates barriers to accessing a huge proportion of third-level institutions
- To overturn the need for international protection applicants to be in the direct provision system for three years before they can avail of third-level grants – those excluded from the Government grant scheme are required to pay international tuition fees