1 March 2021

 Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (Monday) announced the roll-out of €300,000 in funding to support students from the Traveller community.

The funding is aimed at Traveller progression to and retention in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be used to support students with study spaces, health and social impacts, caring responsibilities or technology supports.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

COVID-19 has posed particular problems for Travellers participating in higher education.

When I was appointed Minister, I met members of Traveller community who outlined the challenges they have in finding somewhere quiet to do their work or secure access to Wifi.

This funding will help higher education institutions address the particular needs of individual students.

The aim with this funding is to ensure that the risks associated with COVID-19 do not serve to widen the existing and very significant gap in participation in higher education by Travellers.

Minister Harris added:

I am particularly pleased we can announce this funding on Traveller Ethnicity Day. It is my ambition to do everything we can to ensure members of the Traveller community access higher education and importantly complete their higher level journey.

Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA, said

Increasing and maintaining Traveller participation in higher education is fundamental to ensuring that the student body reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland’s population. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of Irish society, we must recognise the particular impact it is having on the Traveller community. Today’s announcement on ring-fenced funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund will provide higher education institutions with the opportunity to tackle these issues through additional pre- and post-entry supports for Traveller students. We value students from the Traveller community in higher education and we want to ensure that their participation is nurtured and increased.

Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of Pavee Point, said

Pavee Point and the National Traveller Women’s Forum welcome this dedicated funding, which is a tangible response to the recommendations in the report of our National Forum last year on transfer to and progression within higher education.

The fund will help to mitigate against the effects of COVID-19 on Travellers participating or hoping to participate in higher education. Essential special measures such as this are crucial to achieving real progress in realising education ambitions for Traveller families and we hope this marks an important milestone in enhanced approaches to collaborative engagement with colleagues across the wider education spectrum.

Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte welcomed the announcement:

Covid-19 has impacted students from the travelling community hoping to participate in higher education.  This announcement is to be welcomed – with the hope that it will not allow the gap to widen even further at third level for Travellers.