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New €300,000 fund aims to support Travellers who want to study in third level

The fund will be used to support technology, study space, and caring responsibilities.

Image: Shutterstock/Matej Kastelic

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced a €300,000 fund to help members of the Travelling community pursue third-level education ambitions. 

The money was secured through the Dormant Accounts Fund, and will be used to support technology, study space, health and social impact, and caring responsibilities.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said that this ring-fenced funding aims to address the implications that the Covid-19 pandemic will have on Travellers’ progression in Higher Education.

It aims to ensure expected increases in Traveller participation in higher education remain “on track”.

The Department of Higher Education cites recent studies that say there are only 61 Travellers in higher education, and approximately 1% of Travellers have a third-level education.

Harris said the funding is expected “to have a significant positive impact on Traveller access to and retention in higher education”.

“It is important to be able to safeguard increases in participation in higher education by the Traveller community during this pandemic and mitigate against the risk of long-term damage arising from Covid-19.

“I look forward to working with and engaging with higher education institutions and local and national Traveller organisations to ensure the successful roll-out of the actions in the Action Plan for Increasing Traveller Participation in Higher Education.”

Irish Travellers are  under-represented in higher education, and one of the target groups identified by the National Access Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education.

The target of 80 Travellers in higher education, from a baseline of 35 was set for the duration of the NAP for Traveller participation.

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The progress review of the NAP in 2018 highlighted the need for a more focussed intervention, resulting in the Action Plan for Traveller Participation in Higher Education 2019-2021.

Harris added: “It is my hope that this dedicated funding will have a transformative long-term benefit for the Traveller community; a community with a current unemployment rate of 85% and where many have yet to reach their full potential.

“I’ve said previously that I want to create an island of talent and inclusion, this is just one small step in achieving this goal.”

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