Minister Simon Harris has announced that €450,000 in funding will be assigned for Traveller and Roma students in third-level education.
The investment is much needed in order to close the gap in education that Traveller and Roma students face.
“Participation by Travellers in higher education remains at an alarming low level and recent data shows just 61 Travellers in higher education. Only 1% of Travellers have a third level education,” Mr.Harris said.
As The Journal reports the funding that the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science announced will be managed by his department.
It was secured through the Dormant Accounts Funds to make sure that following the Covid-19 pandemic the gap between Travellers and the rest of the population did not widen.
It is set out to both increase the number of Traveller and Roma students in third-level education in Ireland as well as supporting those students already enrolled. It is understood that some of the money will go towards bursaries.
“We have a significant way to go to improving participation rates among the Traveller and Roma community but it will also offer additional supports to people already in Higher Education,” Mr. Harris said.
The department is focused on ensuring that Covid-19 does not create a further setback for these students.
The minister said that it’s a “real risk that the small increases we have seen in recent years could be lost as a result of Covid-19.”
The fund has eight key objectives. These include things like, offering mentoring and mental health support, having once-off payments for resources that Roma and Traveller students need, and improving digital connectivity through things like laptop schemes.
This scheme is in addition to the others in place as part of the Action Plan for Increasing Traveller participation in Higher Education 2019-2021.
Some of the funding will also go towards building an interagency community approach that will be headed by third-level institutions in conjunction with local Traveller and Roma community groups.
Simon Harris welcomed what the funding will achieve.
“This funding marks a 50% increase in the funding secured in 2021,” he said.
“It will have transformative long-term benefits for the Traveller and Roma communities and allow third-level institutions to broaden their reach to people in these marginalised communities,” he said.
Feature image by Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie.