Higher Education Authority Courses at universities and colleges for students with intellectual disabilities – PATH

PATH – Programme for Access to Higher Education

Background

The Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) is a dedicated fund, broken into five strands, committed to increasing participation by under-represented groups in higher education.

The fund, valued at over €30 million, was established by the Department of Education and Skills, now the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, in 2017 as a commitment to support the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019.

The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities were very proud to have been invited to a photo call on Wednesday July 3rd with Taoiseach Simon Harris, Minister Patrick O’Donovan and Minister Hildegarde Naughton for an exciting announcement about the third level programmes for students with intellectual disabilities being supported through the PATH 4 Phase 2 funding.

Taoiseach and Minister O’Donovan announce expansion of transformational third level courses for students with intellectual disabilities

· From September, eight courses will be rolled out for students with intellectual disabilities

· Three courses will commence from January 2025 including an additional course in TUS which has been approved

PATH SImon Harris Higher educations

· All courses will be free

Taoiseach Simon Harris and Minister for Further and Higher Education Patrick O’Donovan have announced additional investment and the roll-out of courses for students with intellectual disabilities under the Programme for

Access to Higher Education (PATH 4).

PATH 4 is a key driver in delivering the following objectives, under the Inclusivity goal in the National Access Plan:

To embed a whole-of-institution approach to student success and universal design

To improve opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to engage in higher education

PATH 4 is supported by funding of over €12m allocated on a phased basis as follows:

Phase 1 – Universal Design Fund – Supporting inclusive universally designed higher education environments for all

Phase 2 – Course provision for students with intellectual disabilities

                         Purpose of the Funding

PATH 4 Phase 2 will operate on a three-year pilot basis and is intended to:

Enhance course provision for students with intellectual disabilities across HEIs currently participating in the PATH programme, including students with intellectual disabilities from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and other National Access Plan priority groups.

To support future evidence-informed policy considerations in respect of the successful participation of students with intellectual disabilities in higher education including:

An understanding on how engagement in higher education can support real outcomes, including employment, for students with intellectual disabilities.

Establishing an evidence base for a full and holistic cost of provision for students with intellectual disabilities encompassing fees, cost of provision for institution, day-to-day expenses, transport, student supports, mental health, preparation for interviews, etc.

Phase 2 is also intended to contribute to the following:

The implementation by HEIs of the Inclusivity goal, and its related objectives and actions, of the National Access Plan.

To enable the creation of inclusive built and digital environments in higher education which can be accessed by all, and which supports increased engagement, progression, and success for all students, benefiting all priority groups in the National Access Plan, including students with intellectual disabilities.

To develop the higher education sector’s capacity for inclusive teaching, learning and assessment to enable greater opportunities for participation in higher education by all students including students with intellectual disabilities.

The courses, which will be available across the country, will be free of charge to students.

In addition to the ten courses already approved under PATH 4 Phase 2 funding, a new course at the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) will be made available for students.

Speaking, Taoiseach Simon Harris said:

“This is a particularly proud day for me. When I was Minister for Further and Higher Education, we announced the successful courses and today we confirm their start dates.

“As Taoiseach, I want to create an education system is equal for everyone. This announcement ensures a person with an intellectual disability is afforded the same opportunities as any of their peers.

“I want to thank the Higher Education Authority, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, university leaders and Minister O’Donovan for their leadership in bringing these plans to fruition.

“Most of all, I want to thank the young men and women in the Trinity Centre for Intellectual Disabilities who inspired us to deliver this change across third level. Today is for them.”

Minister O’Donovan said:

“These students had achieved so much to get to Higher Level and are a credit to their families and communities for doing so. It was really important to me that we didn’t put any further challenges in their way, when they have faced and cleared so many hurdles to get to this point in their lives.

“These courses have been designed with the learner at heart. They can transform the lives of students and their families, helping them thrive, leading to further education and employment.

“The new course in TUS supports further opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities.

“Earlier this year, my Department announced the first 10 higher education institutions across the country who are providing courses funded under the PATH 4 programme.

“This extra investment of over €1 million brings the total investment in PATH 4 Phase 2 to over €11m over three years. I look forward to the feedback on these courses during this initial three-year pilot scheme.”

PATH is a dedicated fund which supports the delivery of equity of access objectives under the NAP and has been provided to increase participation by under-represented groups in higher education. PATH 4 Phase 2 is the funding programme which has been made available by the Department for the provision of courses in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) for students with intellectual disabilities.

Louise Callinan, Head of Access Policy at the Higher Education Authority, said:

“Improving opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to engage in higher education is a core commitment in the National Access Plan 2022-2028.

“The investment of over €11m in this pilot under PATH 4 Phase 2 will support the enhancement of provision for students with intellectual disabilities across 11 higher education institutions and will inform future policy.

“I would like to acknowledge the considerable ongoing work by the 11 higher education institutions to develop these programmes and to support meaningful pathways for students with intellectual disabilities.”

The courses that will be provided from September are at:

· Atlantic Technical University (ATU)

· Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT)

· Mary Immaculate College (MIC)

· South East Technological University (SETU)

· Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

· Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin)

· University College Cork (UCC)

· University of Galway (UG)

The courses that will be available from January will be at:

· Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT)

· Munster Technological University (MTU)

· Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) (New course)

Further details for in-depth information are available in the link below :

https://mcscasemanagement.ie/blog/

https://hea.ie/

https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2023/06/PATH-4-Phase-2-Overview-of-Courses-Easy-Read-Version-subject-to-change.pdf

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