Fund for Students with Disabilities

The purpose of the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) is to assist further and higher education institutions in ensuring students with disabilities have the necessary assistance and equipment to enable them access, fully participate in and successfully complete their chosen course of study.

The FSD is one of the main funding sources supporting participation by students with disabilities in approved further and higher education courses in Ireland. It also supports students from Ireland to study on approved courses in Northern Ireland, the UK and other EU countries.

Eligible students on an approved course can receive assistance from post-leaving certificate to doctoral level during any year of study. Full-time undergraduate courses must be not less than two years in duration. Part-time undergraduate courses must be not less than one year in duration. Postgraduate courses must be not less than one year in duration.

Which colleges participate in the FSD?

  • Universities

    • Dublin City University
    • Maynooth University
    • National University of Ireland, Galway
    • Trinity College Dublin
    • University College Cork
    • University College Dublin
    • University of Limerick
    • Technological University Dublin
  • Institutes of technology

    • Athlone Institute of Technology
    • Cork Institute of Technology
    • Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design & Technology
    • Dundalk Institute of Technology
    • Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology
    • Institute of Technology, Carlow
    • Institute of Technology, Sligo
    • Institute of Technology, Tralee
    • Letterkenny Institute of Technology
    • Limerick Institute of Technology
    • Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Other colleges

    • Marino Institute of Education
    • Law Society of Ireland
    • Carlow College, St Patrick’s
    • St Patrick’s College, Thurles
    • Shannon College of Hotel Management
    • Mary Immaculate College
    • National College of Art and Design
    • St Angela’s College
    • National College of Ireland
    • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • Post-leaving certificate colleges

    • Ballsbridge College of Further Education
    • Ballyfermot College of Further Education
    • Coláiste Dhulaigh College of Further Education
    • Coláiste Íde College of Further Education
    • Crumlin College of Further Studies
    • Inchicore College of Further Education
    • Killester College
    • Kylemore College
    • Liberties College
    • Marino College
    • Pearse College
    • Plunket College
    • Rathmines College of Further Education
    • Ringsend College
    • St Kevin’s College
    • Whitehall College of Further Education
    • Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí
    • Coláiste Stiofain Naofa
    • Cork College of Commerce
    • Kinsale College
    • Mallow College of Further Education
    • McEgan College
    • St John’s Central College
    • St Colman’s Community College
    • Terence Mac Swiney Community College
    • Cavan Institute
    • Monaghan Institute
    • Blackrock Further Education Institute
    • College of Further Education Dundrum
    • Collinstown Park Community College
    • Deansrath Community College
    • Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute
    • Grange Community College
    • Greenhills College
    • Sallynoggin College of Further Education
    • Stillorgan College of Further Education
    • Errigal College
    • Finn Valley College
    • St Catherine’s Vocational School
    • Abbey Community College
    • Clarin College Athenry
    • Coláiste an Chreagáin
    • Galway Community College
    • Galway Technical Institute
    • Roscommon Community College
    • Carlow Institute of Further Education
    • Coláiste Eoin
    • Coláiste Mhuire
    • Duiske College
    • Grennan College
    • Kilkenny City Vocational School (Ormonde CFE)
    • Muine Bheag Vocational School
    • Scoil Aireagail
    • Coláiste na Sceilge
    • Kerry College of Further Education
    • Killarney Community College
    • North Kerry College of Further Education
    • Bray Institute Of Further Education
    • Colaiste Bhride
    • Confey Community College
    • Curragh Post-Primary School
    • Glenart College
    • Scoil Chonglais
    • St Conleth’s Community College
    • St Farnan’s Post Primary School
    • St Kevin’s Community College
    • Coláiste Chiaráin
    • Coláiste Iosaef Kilmalock
    • Ennis Community College
    • Ennistymon Vocational School
    • Hazelwood College
    • Limerick College of Further Education
    • Beaufort College
    • Drogheda Institute of Further Education
    • Dunboyne College of Further Education
    • O’Fiach College
    • Abbeyleix Further Education Centre
    • Portlaoise College
    • Tullamore Further Education Centre
    • Ardscoil Phádraig
    • Athlone Community College
    • Columba College Kilucan
    • Mullingar Community College
    • Temple Michael College
    • Castlebar College of Further Education
    • Coláiste Chomáin Ros Dumach
    • Lough Allen College
    • Moyne College
    • North Connaught College
    • Sligo College of Further Education
    • St Tiernan’s College
    • Westport College of Further Education
    • Central Technical Institute
    • Coláiste Dún Iascaigh
    • Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed
    • Coláiste Phobail Roscré
    • Nenagh College of Further Education
    • Newport College (St Joseph’s College)
    • St Ailbe’s School
    • Templemore College of Further Education
    • Bridgetown College
    • Bunclody Vocational College
    • Coláiste an Atha
    • Coláiste Chathail Naofa
    • Enniscorthy Vocational College
    • Kennedy College New Ross
    • Selskar College
    • St Paul’s Community College
    • Waterford College of Further Education
    • Ballyhaunis Community School
    • Cabinteely Community School
    • Castlecomer Community School
    • Castlerea Community School
    • Central College Limerick
    • Coláiste Mhuire
    • Dunmore Community School
    • Glenamaddy Community School
    • Gorey Community School
    • Jesus and Mary Secondary School
    • Kilrush Community School
    • Kinsale Community School
    • Mary Immaculate Secondary School
    • Mercy College
    • Moate Business College
    • Our Lady’s Secondary School
    • Ramsgrange Community School
    • Sancta Maria College
    • Scoil Phobail
    • Scoil Phobail Mhic Dara
    • St Cuan’s College
    • St Louis Community School
    • St Joseph’s College Summerhill
    • St Patrick’s Comprehensive School Shannon
    • The Donahies Community School
    • Tullow Community School
  • UK and EU colleges

    Full-time undergraduate courses of not less than two years duration pursued in a university or third-level institution which is maintained or assisted by recurrent grants from public funds in an EU member state other than Ireland, with the exception of the following:

    1. Courses in colleges of further and higher education (other than courses which are at Higher National Diploma level or higher);

    2. Courses provided in a college which are offered in private commercial third-level colleges in the state in question, and which are validated by that college; and

    3. Courses in colleges akin to private commercial colleges in Ireland.

Who is eligible for support under the FSD?

To be eligible for support under the FSD, a student on an approved course must:

  • have a verifiable disability in one or more of the categories outlined below;
  • meet the nationality and residency criteria outlined below;
  • be a participant on a full-time course or may be a participant on a part-time course under pilot approach for 2018; AND
  • have a verified need for specific supports to enable attendance on their chosen course.
Categories of disability
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Blind/vision impaired
Deaf/hard of hearing
Developmental co-ordination disorder (dyspraxia/dysgraphia)
Mental health condition (for example bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, clinical depression, severe anxiety, severe phobias, OCD, severe eating disorders and psychosis)
Neurological condition
Significant ongoing illness
Specific learning difficulties (dyslexia or dyscalculia)


In order to be eligible for support under the FSD, a student must be legally resident in Ireland for at least three of the five years up to the day before her/his approved course commences in an approved institution. If the student does not qualify at the beginning of their course, it is possible for her/him to meet this requirement during the course of her/his studies. This should be reviewed at the beginning of an academic year.


In order to be eligible for support under the FSD, the student must be either:

  • an Irish national OR
  • a national of another European Union member state, the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Immigration status

If one of the nationality categories above does not apply, then the student will need to have:

  • been declared a refugee under the Refugee Act 1996 OR
  • been admitted to Ireland as a Programme Refugee OR
  • permission to remain in Ireland as a family member of a refugee under section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996 OR
  • been granted subsidiary protection under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 OR
  • permission in writing to enter and reside in Ireland under Regulation 16 of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 OR
  • permission to remain in the State as a family member of a European Union, EEA or Swiss citizen under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008 and EU Directive (EU Treaty Rights provisions) OR
  • permission to remain because of marriage or civil partnership with an Irish national or because you are the dependent child of such person OR
  • humanitarian leave to remain granted before the Immigration Act 1999 came into effect OR
  • permission to remain in Ireland following a decision not to deport you under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999.

What supports are covered under the FSD?

  • assistive technology equipment and software
  • non-medical helpers (e.g. personal assistants, notetakers)
  • academic/learning support
  • deaf supports (sign language interpreters, speedtext)
  • transport support

What supports are not covered under the FSD?

  • assessment or diagnosis of a disability
  • any medical equipment, assistance or support
  • services that can reasonably be expected to be provided by the institution (e.g. counselling service) or by another agency (e.g. local health service)
  • course-related equipment, materials or software (i.e. applicable to all students on the course)
  • support or assistance provided outside the academic year, or periods during the academic year when the college is closed
  • subsistence, mileage and accommodation costs for personal assistants, note-takers, speed-text operators or ISL interpreters
  • staff training and development
  • policy work or research

How do I apply for the FSD?

A claim under the FSD is made on behalf of an eligible student by their college following an assessment of need. Applications cannot be made directly to the FSD by students. For more information, please contact the disability or access office in the college where you are studying.

Students are advised to register with the disability or access office as soon as possible so that supports available through the FSD can be accessed. The claims process for the FSD does not generally start until a student has enrolled in their course.

Students must meet particular criteria in order to qualify for support and they will be informed of these when they register with the disability or access office.

Funding is allocated to the college, not the student. The college has full discretion on how the FSD is allocated at local level and remains responsible for the management of funding throughout each academic year.

Students are not generally required to organise services, supports or source equipment themselves – this is done by the college in consultation with the applicant.

What other supports and services are available?

Depending on the college and the resources available, a range of additional services and supports may be on offer. These include:

  • a disability service with dedicated support staff
  • measures to enhance the accessibility of buildings, such as wheelchair lifts
  • non-standard admissions procedures, whereby students with disabilities may be admitted to a course without necessarily having achieved the full CAO point level for that course
  • tailored induction programmes for students with disabilities
  • access to student accommodation units (on campus or otherwise) reserved specifically for students with disabilities
  • psycho-educational assessment for students experiencing problems associated with specific learning difficulties or dyslexia

The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a third-level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. DARE offers reduced points places to school leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges in second level education.

Where can I find further information?

  • a college’s website and prospectus
  • disability and access offices in colleges
  • a college’s disability policy
  • local education and training boards
  • AHEAD (Association of Higher Education Access and Disability)

The Fund for Students with Disabilities is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. The Fund for Students with Disabilities is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

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