Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has attended the Access Forum for the fourth National Access Plan 2022-2028.
The National Access Plan has dedicated an additional investment of €35 million over 7 years to increase participation in Higher Education among specific students groups – students who are socio-economically disadvantaged, students who are members of Irish Traveller and Roma communities and students with disabilities including intellectual disabilities.
The Forum is focused on the implementation of the fourth National Access Plan.
At the event students shared their views and experiences on access issues with policymakers and stakeholders.
Speaking at the forum, Minister Harris said, “since becoming Minister it has been my overriding objective to create a higher education system that is equal and accessible to all. My first and foremost priority has been inclusion. And I believe this is one of the most ambitious plans for equality in higher education we have ever had.”
“The student must be at the centre of all that we do and this Forum provides a collective opportunity to report and reflect on progress achieved and to challenge ourselves on what we can do better to ensure their pathway is as smooth as possible.”
Minister Harris continued, “I am pleased that since the National Access Plan was launched, I have been able to introduce new initiatives to support its goals. These include a €12 million investment over four years to support Universal Design and enhanced provision for students with an intellectual disability and additional bursaries for students from a disadvantaged socio-economic background.”
“I have also ringfenced over €1.35 million of funding to improve access to and participation of Traveller and Roma Communities within Higher Education. Collaboratively we can make a very significant difference to the landscape of higher education, enhancing the lives of individuals, families and communities.”
This was the sixth annual National Access Forum and the first one to be held in-person since 2020.