Queen's confirms plans for Irish language residential scheme
QUEEN'S University has confirmed that it is set to introduce measures that will see Gaeilgeoirí housed together in its halls of residence.
The move follows a campaign by An Cumann Gaelach QUB, the university's Irish language student society.
The proposal, which may one day see accommodation offered to all language students at Queen's, is expected to be in place by September once approved by the university's senate.
Similar arrangements exist at Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway and other higher education establishments in the Republic, while corresponding schemes are in place at Welsh and Scottish universities.
Queen's told The Irish News that its residential language scheme "will be available to students studying degrees with languages or a language element offered by the university".
However, due to demand for an Irish residential accommodation scheme, it will be the only one piloted initially.
"This initiative is based on similar programmes currently available in other universities," the statement said.
"Students who select this accommodation option will be bound by the same eligibility criteria as all other students as set out in the current university allocation policy, and must have already secured an accommodation place."
Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw, who was among politicians who backed Cumann Gaelach QUB's campaign, welcomed what she called an "exciting initiative".
"It is important for our shared culture and heritage that Irish speakers are able to exercise their language skills with their peers," she said.
"Similar housing schemes exist in other universities and there is no reason why students here should miss out. I wish it every success in furthering the promotion of the Irish language among our student population."
An Cumann Gaelach QUB said in a statement that its members were "encouraged" discussions they’d had with Queen's regarding their proposal.
"We will continue to work with the university to ensure the scheme is in place by September 2022, for a new generation of Irish speaking students at QUB," the statement said.
"If implemented this will be a huge step forward for Irish language rights on campus and we look forward to meeting and engaging with QUB in the weeks ahead."
However, the statement added that there remained a "need for a comprehensive additional discussion on Irish language signage on campus", in line with a Queen's students' union motion passed more than five years ago.
"Our campaign for full access to language rights on campus will not stop here," the statement concluded.