NUI Galway Celebrates University of Sanctuary Designation and Diversity in Education as a Strength

Nov 21 2019 Posted: 14:31 GMT

NUI Galway will promote the meaningful integration for Ireland’s newest communities, breaking down barriers to education, and eliminating discrimination in all its forms

 NUI Galway will celebrate its recent designation as a University of Sanctuary today (Thursday, 21 November) with Galway City Mayor, Councillor Mike Cubbard and NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh attending the event from 10am-12pm in the Aula Maxima. The 2019 University of Sanctuary scholarship recipients from several diverse and under-represented backgrounds will also participate in the event.

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration, and Integration, David Stanton, TD will also launch the University’s annual report on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) for the academic year 2018/19 today (Thursday, 21 November).

President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “We commit to broadening access to university education from under-represented groups, while leading on and promoting equality and diversity throughout the University. While we look at diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, and experiential upbringing, we look at people simply as people. Fellow human beings on a journey through life.

“Education is key to supporting society’s development and it’s fundamental that our education system does its utmost to assist those most in need. Students who have fled war, persecution, genocide, and many other human rights violations deserve our support. Their resilience should be rewarded, and we are pleased this week to award eight University of Sanctuary scholarships in 2019, underlining our commitments to developing our position as a University of Sanctuary.”

In 2017, student members of the Fáilte Refugees Society created a university-wide movement to challenge educational inequities, prejudice and racism that existed nationally and in the West of Ireland in particular. NUI Galway’s student-led society, Minceirs Whiden (Travellers Talking), is the first student society for Travellers in Ireland established by a university, and gives our students from the travelling community a place to talk and share support.

Six undergraduate and two postgraduate University of Sanctuary scholarships have been awarded in 2019, which include: four scholarships in College of Science; two in Business, Public Policy and Law; one in Engineering and Informatics, and one in Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies.

Figures published in the annual report show that the NUI Galway community is increasingly reflective of the diverse society and of the diversity in the West of Ireland. NUI Galway had 3,972 international students in 2018/19, making up 18% of all undergraduate students and 28% of postgraduates. The numbers of international staff have also grown by 4% (from 20% to 24%) in the last year, with more than 110 countries represented on campus. NUI Galway also records statistics for average age, gender breakdown, and staff with disabilities.

The annual Equality, Diversity and Inclusion report outlines key achievements during the past year, including:

  • The success of the University of Sanctuary campaign, placing NUI Galway among those universities internationally who work to ensure that higher education is accessible and welcoming to asylum seekers, refugees and to members of the Traveller Community.
  • The celebration of 20 years of Access Programmes, which support individuals in realising their educational potential through various non-traditional entry routes to higher education.
  • The development of equality and inclusion priority actions to link with the University’s new Strategic Plan, which will be launched in early 2020.
  • The embedding of Athena SWAN, a gender equality award, throughout the University and its Schools.
  • The undertaking of a Gender Pay Gap analysis, ahead of required government legislation, to proactively confront any issues that may be present due to gender inequality. The Gender Pay Gap captures the extent to which women are represented evenly across an organisation, at both junior and senior levels.
  • The development of a Staff Guide to Disability in the Workplace to support staff who require reasonable accommodations.
  • The establishment of an International Staff Network to support and provide a voice for all non-Irish staff members of NUI Galway.

Places of Sanctuary Ireland (PoSI) is a network of groups in local communities which share the objectives of promoting a culture of welcome and inclusiveness across Irish society for those seeking International Protection in Ireland. Their University of Sanctuary initiative encourages and celebrates the good practice of universities, colleges and institutes welcoming refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants into their university communities in meaningful ways. The University of Sanctuary steering committee at NUI Galway also includes the Irish Traveller community in its remit, with a focus on the promotion of Irish Traveller culture as an innate and positive element of Irish society, and to address the low levels of participation at second and third-level education amongst Irish Travellers.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Stanton said: “I am delighted to be at NUI Galway today to launch this report. With this being their third Annual Report, it is clear that the University actively lives by its values and that equality, diversity and inclusion are front and centre in the way it carries out its role. This Report encapsulates the great progress that NUI Galway has made in recent years and demonstrates that it remains committed to creating a welcoming work and study environment where diversity is celebrated, where everyone can contribute and reach their full potential, and where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully.”

NUI Galway’s Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Anne Scott added: “I am delighted to see this report of our programme of equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives launched today by Minister David Stanton. This annual report provides clear evidence that we in NUI Galway are making significant progress in building a sustainable diverse and inclusive culture in our university. We all appreciate that we are on a stimulating journey with significant challenges ahead. However, our commitment to this broad-based agenda is clear. We look forward with confidence to building on these achievements and continuing this important work in academic year 2019/20.”

Guest speakers at the University of Sanctuary celebration will include the Mayor of Galway City, Mike Cubbard; NUI Galway President, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh; NUI Galway's Students' Union President, Clare Austick, as well as student representatives from across the university. There will be live music on the day from the Galway One World Choir, as well as from colleagues in the Centre of Irish Studies at NUI Galway.

To read the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) annual report, visit:


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