Minister Harris meets with universities to discuss the Higher Education response to Ukraine

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (March 14th) met with the Irish Universities Association to discuss the Higher Education response to the situation in Ukraine.

The sector has agreed it will provide places for Irish students who have had to leave Ukraine in the middle of their studies. The majority of these students were studying medicine or dentistry.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) has put in place a working group with the Deans of Medicine, the Medical Council, the Department and Admissions Officers to ensure that Irish students returning from the Ukraine can continue their education and integrate the relevant programme at the right level.

The Minister and the IUA also agreed a central point of contact was required for people coming from Ukraine seeking to enter higher education here, and that will be put in place in the coming days.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “Today I was pleased to meet with the IUA to discuss a range of issues including the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine.

“There will be a variety of responses required by our sector. The most pressing will be the ability to access English language supports. This is crucial to ensuring people have the ability to understand the information being presented to them, and to help them embed in Irish society.

“We will also need to provide employment opportunities for people and offer people the chance to engage in further education.

“When it comes to higher education, the immediate priority is to ensure Irish students fleeing Ukraine can continue their studies here. My Department has contacted them all and they are deeply traumatised by what has unfolded. We will work to extend supports and care to them.

“The IUA universities have confirmed they will provide places necessary and we look forward to working with them on that. We will also work collectively to ensure Ukrainian people can access higher education here too.

“I will continue to engage with colleagues across the sector to ensure we can offer an effective response to the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetime.”

The Department, together with the Department of Education, also met with Solas and Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) today to ensure a co-ordinated and family-centred approach across schools and further education to meeting English language needs of adults and children from Ukraine.