29 February, 2024
Report on the Sixth Annual National Access Forum 2023
By Vera Hughes
Posted: 10 October, 2023
On April 27th the Access Policy team at the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in partnership with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) organised the sixth annual National Access Forum in Dublin.
The Forum marked the first in-person event since 2020 and the first forum since the launch of the National Access Plan: A Strategic Action Plan for Equity of Access, Participation and Success in Higher Education 2022-2028 (NAP) in August 2022. This year’s Forum focused discussion on the implementation of the National Access Plan 2022-2028 and brought together policymakers and stakeholders to share best practice and approaches to delivering the objectives of the National Access Plan. Forum participants included HEI professionals, students from NAP priority groups, and DFHERIS and HEA officials. Approximately 130 attendees participated in the Forum.
The core of the Forum was the student panel discussion, chaired by Dr Áine Ní She, Registrar and Vice President for Academic Affairs, MTU Cork campus. The panel was comprised of students from across four of the NAP priority groups. The panel offered insights into the unique needs and challenges of students and aimed to foster a better understanding of how students can be supported and how barriers to higher education can be removed.
The Forum concluded with a closing speech by Mr Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, where he expressed gratitude to the student panellists for their inspirational testimonials and highlighted their role in motivating further action. Minister Harris extended his thanks to DFHERIS and the HEA for their collective efforts in advancing access, inclusion, and equality in education, reaffirming the government’s commitment to equitable educational opportunities through the National Access Plan. He emphasized the broader societal impact of improving access to education and encouraged an ongoing commitment to enhancing the system.
The full report on the Forum is available below.