University of Limerick accepts 17 asylum seekers on to programme

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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The University of Limerick has accepted 17 asylum seekers, on to their Place of Sanctuary scholarship programme. The new students include Donnah Vuma, a mother of three. Ms Vuma, 31, has been living in direct provision. She described winning the scholarship as a “life-changing.”

The UL scholarship programme begins in September. It includes a course-fee waiver, as well as funding towards travel, printing, and IT requirements.

Ms Vuma, along with her three children, fled Zimbabwe three years ago. However, due to regulations regarding asylum seekers, she was not allowed to work.

She described life in direct provision as “draining.”

“The biggest effect is psychological, depression and mental health,” Ms Vuma explained.

“It’s draining, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I’d like to see it come to an end. It’s the same routine every day . . . you get up, have your breakfast, go to your room, wait for lunch, go back to your room, go to dinner, go back to your room.”

Life changing scholarship

Ms Vuma worked in sales and marketing in Zimbabwe. She plans to study psychology at UL.

“The scholarship is going to be a life-changer for me. It means I can finally pursue an area that I’m very passionate about. It will mean I am out of the centre and doing something that will enable me to contribute positively to society, as soon as I can get out of direct provision.”

Dr Mairead Moriarty, chair of the University of Limerick’s sanctuary steering committee, said the Place of Sanctuary students would be studying a wide range of courses. These include business, arts humanities and social sciences, as well as law and politics, peace and development studies, and engineering.

“They are from a range of countries, including Syria, Zimbabwe, Iran, Iraq, Libya. Most have been in direct provision for up to four years, and the majority have one from war-torn regions,” she said.

Anne Sexton

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