National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019



The National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019 was published in December 2015.

Equity of access to higher education is a fundamental principle of Irish education policy, and one that has been endorsed by successive governments in policy statements and commitments over the past thirty years.

The vision of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019 is to ensure that the student body entering, participating in and completing higher education at all levels reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland’s population.

The plan set out five goals and more than thirty actions, developed following widespread consultation with stakeholders, with the aim of supporting increased access and participation in higher education by six main target groups:

  • entrants from socio-economic groups that have low participation in higher education;
  • first-time mature students;
  • students with disabilities;
  • part-time/flexible learners;
  • further education and training award holders; and
  • Irish Travellers.

The plan also indicated subgroups that require particular support, including lone parents, teen parents and ethnic minorities.

The priority goals of the plan are to:

  • mainstream the delivery of equity of access in higher education institutions;
  • assess the impact of current initiatives to support equity of access to higher education;
  • gather accurate data and evidence on access and participation and to base policy on what that data tells us;
  • build coherent pathways from further education and to foster other entry routes to higher education; and
  • develop regional and community partnership strategies for increasing access to higher education with a particular focus on mentoring.