Irish students fleeing Ukraine can continue studies in Ireland, Minister says

Harris says central point of contact needed for Ukrainians wishing to study here

Irish students who have had to leave Ukraine in the middle of their studies will be able to continue their education in Ireland, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has said.

Mr Harris met with the Irish Universities Association on Monday to discuss the higher education sector's response to the war in Ukraine.

The sector has agreed it will provide places for Irish students who have had to leave Ukraine, the Department of Education confirmed in a statement.

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 after the meeting on Monday, Mr Harris said there would 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,” he said.

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

The “immediate priority” was to ensure Irish students fleeing Ukraine could continue their studies here.

The Department of Education has contacted all such students.

“They are deeply traumatised by what has unfolded. We will work to extend supports and care to them,” Mr Harris said.

The Department and the IUA would also work to ensure Ukrainian people can access higher education here too.