Simon Harris, the higher and further education minister, met with the Irish Universities Association to discuss the sector’s response to the war in Ukraine.
Approximately 46 Irish students were studying in Ukraine before the Russian invasion, with the majority of them enrolled in medicine or dentistry courses. Now, they will be able to continue their studies at Irish universities. Harris said his department has contacted each of the students individually to put a plan in place for continuing their studies.
A working group composed of the deans of medicine, the medical council, and the department and admissions officers has also been set up to ensure they can integrate into “the relevant program at the right level”.
In a statement, Harris said that supporting Irish students is the “immediate priority”, but confirmed that the government and the IUA will “work collectively to ensure Ukrainian people can access higher education here too”.
“It is so important that we support the next generation of Ukrainians and that we ensure that they can continue their education”
“They will be treated just like Irish students,” Harris elaborated in a video posted on Twitter, adding that a central information point will be set up to “make it as easy as possible to get the information they require and to navigate the Irish higher education system”.
“Given that we are now approaching the end of the teaching semester in Irish higher education, it is likely that eligible students will be accommodated in the next academic year starting in September,” a spokesperson from the IUA told The PIE News.
Some 5,500 Ukrainian refugees have now arrived in Ireland, according to Micheál Martin, taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland. The country, in line with the EU, has waived its immigration rules to allow Ukrainian people to enter without visas and immediately have the right to work.
The IUA said that English language training may be a “pre-requisite for arriving students” looking to enrol in a course of study. The Irish government will be offering English language support to Ukrainians arriving in Ireland to help them “embed in Irish society”.
“It is so important that we support the next generation of Ukrainians and that we ensure that they can continue their education,” said Harris. The minister will meet with his European counterparts on March 16 to discuss a consolidated approach to supporting students.