- 10 Apr 19
The Provost of Trinity College, Dr. Patrick Prendergast, has revealed in a major Hot Press interview that the university is “planning to find a way to admit students in direct provision free of fees.”
Describing direct provision as “a terrible thing”, Dr. Prendergast goes on to explain the rationale behind the plan. “The young people in direct provision are classified as non-EU students,” he explains, "which means under state regulations that they’re obliged to pay the non-EU fee, which is upwards of €20,000. They can’t afford the EU fee of €3,000, let alone the higher amount. We’re setting up a special task force in the college, which will look at ways of getting these students from direct provision who do well in their Leaving Cert, and have the necessary points for a course, to Trinity.
"We want them here,” he added. "They would add to our diversity and bring brains, intelligence, commitment and motivation to the university. We’re planning to find a way to admit students in direct provision free of fees.”
Reflecting on whether or not the government would be supportive of this, Dr. Prendergast says: “I suppose they’re worried that we might become known as a country that you come to as an asylum-seeking student and then get a free education. But would that be a bad thing?"
Following on from Hot Press' interview with Dr Prendergast, the Provost confirmed his plan in a tweet this afternoon, writing: "16 Direct Provision (DP) students to be admitted to @tcddublin UG courses free-of-charge if they secure places through CAO - University Council decision today. Congrats to @tcdsu and all for swift response to this injustice".
Also in the interview, as Theresa May engages in her latest round of shuttle diplomacy with other EU leaders, Dr. Prendergast issues a stark warning about the effect a no-deal Brexit will have on Trinity College and other Irish universities.
“It would be very bad for Trinity, and for all Irish third level institutions because student mobility will change,” he states. “Trinity sees itself as a university for the whole island of Ireland. We’ve made a big effort to have more students from Northern Ireland come south. The number had been increasing by about 20% every year, but in 2018 it dropped 20% because of the uncertainty. A student from, say, Derry is going to be a non-EU student and therefore have to pay five times as much in fees.”
The Provost also discusses in detail and without pulling any punches:
– the fact that Trinity is seeking closer ties with Muslim universities;
– the controversy over its current relationship with colleges in Israel;
– the fact that he has never even spoken to the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh;
– the merits of a sliding scale of fees for University courses;
– freedom of speech in colleges;
– and why university safe spaces aren’t necessarily a good thing.
There’s all of that – and a lot more besides – in what is a fascinating, in-depth interview with one of the most important figures in the Irish education system.
The new issue of Hot Press will be on the shelves on Thursday, April 11, or you can buy it online here: