Widening Participation for Equity of Access

Widening participation for equity of access is of utmost importance – to ensure that the higher education student population reflects the diversity of the wider population in Ireland.

The Equal Access Survey (EAS) is an annual, voluntary set of questions asked of first year undergraduate students in HEA-funded institutions. The EAS is a vital source of information to measure progress on national targets, and to understand the profile of underrepresented groups.

Using Deprivation Index Scores (DIS), the relative affluence or disadvantage of a particular geographical area can be measured. Therefore, providing an understanding of the socio-economic profiles of the higher education student population in Ireland. This data and evidence is crucial to policy-makers, to drive and implement change, and to further promote accessibility of third-level education to all individuals, irrespective of background, race, age, or gender.

  • What are Deprivation Index Scores?

    How affluent or deprived is the area you live in? 

    The Deprivation Index Scores measures the relative affluence or deprivation of a particular geographical area. This uses data from the 2016 Census, and is measured right down to street level, based on small-area statistics (on average, 80-100 households).

    Thus, showing the extent to which every neighbourhood, suburb, and village is affluent or deprived. Ten key indicators are included in this measure (e.g., the proportion of skilled professionals, employment levels, education levels).

    More information on Deprivation Index Scores can be found here.

The most recent publications and reports can be found below:

  • Profile of Students with a Disability

    Published: June 2023

    This is the HEA’s first profile of students with a disability in higher education in Ireland. This profile consists of data from 2019/20, 2020/21, and 2021/22. In the latest year, nearly 3 in 4 responded to the Equal Access Survey, with 17.8% of these respondents reporting a disability.

    Find out more

  • Socio-Economic Profiles 2020/21

    Published: November 2022

    This latest set of Socio-Economic Profiles relates to the academic cohort of 2020/21 students. In total, there were 220,280 Irish-domiciled students and 97% had DIS coverage.

    Find out more

Any reports published more than 3 years ago can be found at the below link.


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