Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has announced new funding to support third-level students from the Traveller community.
The roll-out of €300,000 is aimed at Traveller progression to and Traveller progression in higher education during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The aims of the funding are to support students with study spaces, access to technology and to lesson the health and social impacts of the pandemic on their education. The funding will also be used for direct financial support and to build capacity for increased engagement between higher education institutions and the Travelling community.
Trinity is set to receive €14,137 under this newly allocated funding. The outline of the scheme states that Higher Education Institutions can prioritise funding “as they see fit”.
Speaking on the funding, Harris noted the struggles faced by the Travelling community throughout the pandemic, stating that “Covid-19 has posed particular problems for Travellers participating in higher education”, and expressed that this funding will allow for higher education institutions to address the particular needs of individual students.
Harris added: “The aim with this funding is to ensure that the risks associated with Covid-19 do not serve to widen the existing and very significant gap in participation in higher education by Travellers.”
This funding was announced on Traveller Ethnicity Day as part of Harris’s commitment to increasing accessibility to higher education.
Anastasia Crickley, chairperson of Pavee Point, said in response to the new scheme: “Pavee Point and the National Traveller Women’s Forum welcome this dedicated funding, which is a tangible response to the recommendations in the report of our National Forum last year on transfer to and progression within higher education.”
Pavee Point is a national non-governmental organisation committed to the attainment of human rights for Irish Travellers and Roma.
Crickley expressed that measures like this new funding are “crucial” to achieving “real progress in realising education ambitions for Traveller families”. Crickley added Pavee Point’s hope that this announcement will mark “an important milestone” in collaborative projects across all forms of education.
Dr. Alan Wall, CEO of the Higher Education Authority(HEA) noted the particular impacts the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the Traveller community. He said: “Today’s announcement on ring-fenced funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund will provide higher education institutions with the opportunity to tackle these issues through additional pre- and post-entry supports for Traveller students.”
“We value students from the Traveller community in higher education and we want to ensure that their participation is nurtured and increased,” he added.