Progress Review of the National Access Plan and Priorities to 2021
A number of key achievements were highlighted in this review, e.g.:
- increases in participation across a number of target groups, particularly students with disabilities and from socio-economically disadvantaged groups;
- the development of an Access Data Plan to support an evidence-based approach to policy-making in this area; and
- the incorporation of the concept of ‘student success’ into the Higher Education System Performance Framework.
A major element of progress to date and the future implementation of the plan has been the increased investment in new access initiatives. The Government has committed more than €16.5 million in funding over three years as part of the Programme for Access to Higher Education Fund (PATH).
Notwithstanding these important achievements, key challenges remain including difficulties in meeting targets set for mature students and Irish Travellers. Since the publication of the Progress Review, the Department of Education and Skills has published an Action Plan to Promote Traveller Participation in Higher Education and the HEA has commissioned a study on mature student participation. As part of the study an Invitation to Make a Submission to Public Consultation on Mature Student Participation in Higher Education was issued here.
Much work also remains to be done in improving pathways from further to higher education and in enhancing the partnerships between further and higher education institutions to develop access and foundation courses.