Ukrainian President addresses third level students at DCU

Standing ovation for Ukrainian leader

by Rose Barrett
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As the Ukraine faces into a cold winter,  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed more than 1,000 third level students and special guests at an event in The Helix at Dublin City University this lunchtime.

A live-stream of the event was broadcast to more than 20 college campuses across the country.

Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, TD welcomed the President’s address as Russia announced the ban of 52 high ranking Irish politicians, which Irish government leaders were quick to note was pure ‘Putin political spin.’

Despite recent confirmation that Ireland was finding it hard to accommodate incoming Ukrainians, Zelenskyy said: “I thank you for the incredible warmth you have given our people, Ireland has welcomed 63,000 Ukrainian citizens and I am grateful to you.

“The Irish Government and society have helped Ukraine in many ways and while Ireland has a neutral status you are absolutely not neutral in your attitude and assistance to the Ukrainian people.”

The President also took questions from students, who asked about the impact of Russia’s illegal invasion on university life, how students could best support Ukraine, the effect of social media as a new frontier in warfare, and if he believes there is a diplomatic solution to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking following today’s event, Minister Harris said: “While Ireland is a neutral country, we are not, nor can we afford to be, morally or politically neutral on this issue.

“That is why we will continue to support EU sanctions against Russia to hold its leaders accountable for their actions and through our membership of the UN Security Council continue to urge them to immediately end the war in Ukraine.

“Since early March, we have welcomed so many displaced Ukrainians fleeing to our shores and the higher education sector is to be commended for being open, proactive and positive in facilitating the continued education of those arriving from Ukraine. We now have over 300 Ukrainian students enrolled in higher education and an additional 16,000 in further education courses.

“We can all be proud of what we have done to ensure that Putin’s unprovoked aggression will not ruin the lives of the next generation of Ukrainians but that with our continued support we will bring an end to this senseless war and ensure they have the capacity to help rebuild Ukraine back stronger than ever before.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko who attended the event, said: “I would like to thank the teams of the Department of Further and Higher Education, DCU and other universities for making today’s event happen.

“Such events are vital in our common fight against Russian propaganda and information warfare. I am confident that Irish students value democracy, freedom, human rights, and they will remain on the side of truth.”

Irish Government Facts on Ukrainians arriving in Ireland

As of 14 November, there have been 63,765 Temporary Protection (TP) orders granted.

In May, the Minister announced the establishment of the National Student and Researcher (NSR) eHelpHelpdesk, to help displaced students and researchers to explore suitable study options in the Irish education and training system for the academic year commencing in September 2022, and to explore suitable options for continuation of research activity.

As of 31 October, a total of 1,067 applications were made to the Helpdesk with 355 offers made to students with 305 having accepted those offers for the 2022/23 academic year, with 85% pursuing an undergraduate and 15% pursuing a post-graduate.

Student Accommodation – during the summer months (May – August), higher education institutions made close to 2,000 beds available in student accommodation and sports halls to help with the provision of emergency accommodation for those arriving from Ukraine.

Ukrainian Higher Education Entrance Exams – In August, at the request of the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment, two higher education institutions (Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University) hosted this year’s Ukrainian National Multi-Subject Test (NMT) for 351 students in Ireland.

Further Education and Training – the numbers of Temporary Protection status learners enrolling on FET courses, as recorded on the national PLSS database, has increased from 4,370 unique learners at end May 2022 to 16,220 unique learners as of 7 November.  Some 87% are on English language courses.

English Language Provision – the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) offer appropriate English language and additional learning supports for Ukrainians wishing to develop their language competency as part of their social, economic and cultural integration into local and wider Irish society and a new ESOL programme aimed at professionals up to a B2 Level on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is being developed by SOLAS and the ETBI. These proposals involve nine hours live online intensive sessions along with up to 16 hours of self-directed learning weekly over nine months. The Department is still awaiting a final date for activation of this new ESOL support.

Photos Julien Bahal Photography

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