A first-year student in University College Cork (UCC) has been issued with a deportation order by the government, continuing a trend that has seen many students in the country’s colleges face the threat of a forced departure from Ireland.
A petition has been launched calling on Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to revoke a deportation order issued to Hamza Khan, a 20-year-old student of computer science in UCC.
Khan, who has been in Ireland with his family since 2017, enrolled in UCC after successfully applying to its University of Sanctuary scholarship programme.
The petition, launched by University College Cork Students’ Union (UCCSU), states that the “removal of Hamza and his family from the state would put an end to their meaningful access to higher education”.
“Students and staff fought and worked incredibly hard for UCC to be designated a University of Sanctuary”, it adds. “We fought hard so refugees and asylum seekers alike could access higher education and improve their lives and education.”
“This deportation order undermines the hard work of students, staff and most importantly, our sanctuary scholars who have done, and continue to do, outstanding work to be part of our community here in UCC.”
On Twitter, UCCSU Deputy President Ciara Kealy wrote that “sadly, we have to ask anyone and everyone reading this to please sign our petition” to save Khan from deportation.
Khan’s is the latest in a number of high-profile cases that have seen students around the country, who are studying in colleges under the University of Sanctuary scheme, facing the threat of deportation.
In DCU, students have taken to the streets several times in recent years, after deportation orders issued to students Shepherd Machaya and Mehwish Saqib, both of whom argued that they had fled their home countries as a result of threats against their lives.
In December, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) attacked an Oireachtas report on direct provision for failing to mention higher education even once amid a number of recommendations on Ireland’s much-maligned refugee system.
In an open letter addressed to members of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, USI expressed its “supreme disappointment” at what it describes as the report’s lack of thought for third-level students in direct provision.
Signed by USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick and Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship Megan Reilly, the letter pointed to the 11 higher education organisations that made submissions to the committee on the issue.
USI, the letter added, was “extremely disappointed and disheartened” that “access to third level for asylum seekers has been forgotten”, flagging fees and restrictions on grants as two “significant barriers” standing between asylum seekers and third-level education.
USI subsequently appealed to Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor to push for better supports in higher education for asylum seekers
“We urgently need a champion at Government level to address this crisis facing those who have come to Ireland seeking a better life”, Fitzpatrick wrote in a letter to Mitchell O’Connor, adding: “We have also attended far too many protests trying to stop the deportations of our students.”