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National Access Plan 2005-2007

The first National Action Plan for Achieving Equity of Access to Higher Education was drawn up by the National Access Office with the assistance of an advisory group and in consultation with a range of education and social partners. The objective was to present a roadmap of practical and attainable goals and actions which would progress the access and participation of under-represented groups in higher education. The six areas identified for Progress in the 2005-2007 National Access Plan were:

Communicate the rational for equity of access to higher education

A key role of the office has been to communicate the rationale as to why the achievement of a more equitable education system continues to be a national priority. An audio-visual DVD promoting the rationale was produced in 2005.

A national framework of policies and initiatives to achieve equity of access

Over 2005 and 2006 the National Access Office co-ordinated an evaluation of the access programmes of 27 publicly funded higher education institutions (Towards the Best Education for All). The final report presented the first national framework for successful higher education access programmes.

Creating routes of access and progression to higher education

Since its establishment the National Access Office has supported the development of existing and new routes of access through the qualifications network. The office has worked on a number of initiatives by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (now Quality and Qualifications Ireland), including an evaluation of transfer and progression to university published by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland in 2006.

Supporting a broader range of teaching and learning practices

A presentation on progress to date on new strategies for teaching and learning and recommendations for the future were presented by Mary-Liz Trant of the National Access Office at a conference in NUI Galway in June 2006.

Ensuring necessary financial support and resources are available

In October 2005 the National Access Office published a Review of Access Funding for students, institutions and communities. The review recommended the need for more comprehensive and accessible information for students and their families on financial support, that a study should be conducted on the cost of going to college for students from diverse backgrounds, including mature students in part-time education, and that whole-of-community approaches to access should be developed.

In 2005 the HEA also published an Evaluation of the Millennium Partnership Fund for Disadvantage.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) undertook a study of the cost of going to college for different groups of students, including those with childcare and family responsibilities, which was published in 2009.

Studentfinance.ie was launched in 2008 and provides information for students, parents and communities on the financial supports available to them in further and higher education.

Two pilot community projects, on in Clondalkin, Dublin, and one in County Offaly, ran for three years from 2006-2009 and provided insights into the initiatives and relationships that are needed to make equity of access a reality using a whole-of-community approach.

A more robust data-collection and evaluation framework to advise the development of targets and indicators of progress

The development of better data sources on student access and participation began with the collection of Equal Access data at student registration in 2007.

The plan was launched at a national conference in December 2004 and implementation commenced in January 2005. Two annual reports on progress were published, the first early in 2006 and the second early in 2007.

National Action Plan 2005-2007

National Action Plan 2005-2007

National Access Office: Annual Report 2005 and Outline Plans 2006

National Access Office: Annual Report 2005 and Outline Plans 2006

National Access Office: Annual Report 2006 and Outline Plans 2007

National Access Office: Annual Report 2006 and Outline Plans 2007

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