Accessing the university

This morning I had to undertake one of my more pleasant tasks – welcoming the new intake of access students to DCU. Every year we admit a significant number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds or areas, who will get special financial and personal support while they are with us. DCU’s access programme was the first in the Irish university sector, and is still the largest. It is an important contribution to Irish society, and it provides these students with the education for which they are suited and to which they have an entitlement.

Access programmes such as this have contributed significantly to the growing participation rate in higher education, and more particularly to participation by disadvantaged groups. But it has to be said that this has been achieved not because of the ‘free fees’ programme, but rather in spite of it. Free fees have targeted the main taxpayer resources at the middle classes, and have actually resulted in something of a neglect of the disadvantaged, which the universities have had to compensate for with their own resources or the resources of private donors. It is another important reason why the whole resourcing envelope needs to be looked at again.

In the meantime, however, we remain committed to ensuring that people from all backgrounds who have the talent and the ability are able to enter higher education, and DCU will, I hope, remain in the forefront of this effort. Our leadership in this area is something of which I am particularly proud.

Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, university

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