AHEAD Responds to Equity of Access Consultation Paper
Monday, 29th September 2014
Recently the Higher Education Authority released a consultation paper entitled 'Towards the development of a new National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education' which is the first step in planning a strategy to increase access to HIgher Education for marginalised and disadvantaged groups, including those with a disability. AHEAD has made an official response which you can read here but the key points are listed below.
- It is important that institutions develop modules on Universal Design in learning so that all staff, academic and support staff such as Careers Advisors etc., have an awareness of discrimination and its consequences for the students with disability. AHEAD welcomes the goal of exploring Universal Design in Learning and in partnership with the NAO and the sector will kick start this conversation at its 2015 Conference on 19th and 20th March in Dublin Castle on Universal Design for Learning: a licence to learn.
- A deeper evaluation of the fund for students with disability could be achieved by surveying the experience of students with disability in higher education in receipt of the fund across different years.
- It is imperative to ensure that institutions are monitored on their use the additional access funding to build infrastructure to support access and to create a culture that respects and values diversity
- The NAO have a role in reaching back into second level and raising the issues that are creating hurdles for the transition of students with disability into further and higher education
- It is important to continue to set targets for all categories of students with a disability and not just those outlined within the matrix of participation targets for students with disability outlined in higher education in a National Access Plan
- Targets for students with all categories of disability could be embedded within the performance indicators for participation, equal access and lifelong learning.
- If Higher education institutions are serious about improving access then they need to ask the students about their actual experience of higher education, in particular to follow up with those students who have dropped out. Greater research is required into the Hurdles students with different disability meet at different stages in the transfer to higher education.
- The Transition from FE to HEI would be improved by more coherent approach in terms of systems for recognition of alternative qualifications, funding, needs assessment and availability of supports between the two systems of education.
- Funding needs to be put in place to support students with disabilities to engage in higher education on a part time basis.