After a barbaric assault, one international student studying in Dublin has called for Ireland to try ensure the safety of students coming here from all over the world. Ayumi Miyano sits down with Indian national Prince Singh to hear his experiences as an international student studying in Ireland.
On January 15, Singh and his friend Ambarish Kumar — Masters students at Griffith College — were attacked by a group of eight to ten children in the Sundrive Park area of Dublin.
The group of children began following the two Indian students when they entered the park and eventually threw a bicycle lock at both of them.
Kumar was hit by the bicycle lock and was left bleeding. The Gardaí arrived 30 minutes later, followed shortly by an ambulance to aid both students.
Singh and Ambarish were then sent to St. James Hospital but had to wait there for five more hours, before Kumar could finally receive treatment – two stitches on the back of his head.
“When I asked the Irish police what I can do as self-defence, they told me that running is a good option. You can run, but you cannot do anything for self defence,” he said.
“You cannot do anything to the minors. Because if you do anything harmful to them, they will report you. They will report you instead which would abolish your career.”
In Ireland, the law deals with children found in breach of the criminal law in the Children Act 2001. Under the act, children who have not reached the age of 12 years cannot be charged with an offence. In addition, the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions is necessary to charge a child under 14 years with an offence. With regards a child under the age of 18, for which they have been found guilty, can be automatically expunged from the record once certain conditions are met. The act also explains “any penalty imposed on a child for an offence should take the form most likely to maintain and promote the development of the child”.
“I’m thankful to my college – they are supporting me. My Embassy – they are supporting me. My college is also supporting me. But I don’t get any support from the Irish Government,” he said.
“At least, the Irish Government needs to re-educate them so they will not do these kinds of things to anyone else,” he said.
“I think moral education is important. They should try doing the Yoga activity which creates some peacefulness in kids’ minds and invent some sports activity for those types of kids who are wandering all the time, here and there on the streets.’’
Also, Singh recommends that the Government provide security for international students.
According to the Statement by Minister Stanton on Racism affecting Ethnic Minorities in Ireland, the Irish Human Right and Equality Commission (IHREC) has been dealing with the discrimination, including against ethnic minorities, and to seek legal support for persons experiencing discrimination. One of its new functions under the IHREC Act 2014 is to encourage the development of a culture of respect for human equality in the State.
However, the Reports of racism in Ireland by iReport.ie shows a “continuing steady rise” in the number of violent crimes in the second half of 2017. In the same period, 256 racist incidents, including racist assaults, threats to kill or harm, and hate speeches were reported to the iReport.ie. According to the report, “crime and discrimination are targeted most at ethnic minority people who were born or have become Irish citizens”.
The report also shows two-thirds of racist crime victims did not report these to the police. The most common reason for not reporting to Gardai was “I did not think the Gardai (Police) would do anything”.
“Will they do anything for the safety of international students?” he said.
“Lots of students are coming from all over the world to study in Ireland,” Singh explains.
In May 2019, the European Migration Network announced that more non-EEA students are coming to Ireland to access higher education, with numbers increasing by 45 percent between 2013 to 2017.
In India — Education in Ireland, the Irish education brand managed under the authority of the Minister for Education and Skills organises seminars — Official Government of Ireland education fairs. The events are held occasionally in prominent cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore.
International students are a big part of third level revenue for Ireland. About 20 Irish higher education institutions attend the seminar to attract many Indian students from their sales talks.
Although the number of foreign students is increasing, EMN describes the problem which international students are facing; The inefficiency of the immigration registration system is one of them.
When non-EEA students start their life in Ireland, they need to register as immigrants at Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service office.
However, the number of available dates for an appointment is often quite limited and it requires a long time for students to get an appointment.
In addition, most students have to wait six to seven hours at the immigration office on the day of registration.
According to EMN, these processes “cause stress and anxiety in relation to their legal status and have a negative impact on their academic experience in Ireland”.
Also, there is a difference in fees between EEA (European Economic Area) students and non-EEA students in some higher education institutes as applies to other EU States.
In the master’s course of International Business Management at Griffith College, the fee for non-EEA students is €14,000, which is €4,300 more expensive than the one for EEA and Irish students.
“We are like fixed assets for the Irish Government. We are paying lots of money. If we stopped coming to Ireland, they will definitely suffer in their education industry,” Singh comments.
“We have only one option – we go back to our country. But we have already paid lots of money here. We need our degrees also. We want to educate ourselves.
“Now I realise I will try to go back to my country as soon as possible. I don’t want to stay here anymore,” Singh commented.
The hurdles for foreign students are already high enough, with expensive fees and complicated immigrant registration process.
On the official Education in Ireland website, they boast that international students can expect “world-class standatds. Warmest of welcomes”. Prince Singh and others, sadly might argue that their welcome did not fulfil that promise.