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PATH 4 Phase 2 – Course Provision for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris (TD) announced in February 2024 the roll-out of higher education courses for students with intellectual disabilities. This significant initiative, spearheaded by Harris’ department and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), will be delivered across 10 higher education colleges nationwide, offering unprecedented opportunities for learners with intellectual disabilities across communities.

PATH 4 Phase 2 will operate on a three-year pilot basis and is intended to:

  • Enhance course provision for students with intellectual disabilities across HEIs currently participating in the PATH programme, including students with intellectual disabilities from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and other National Access Plan priority groups.
  • To support future evidence-informed policy considerations in respect of the successful participation of students with intellectual disabilities in higher education including:
    an understanding on how engagement in higher education can support real outcomes, including employment, for students with intellectual disabilities.
    establishing an evidence base for a full and holistic cost of provision for students with intellectual disabilities encompassing fees, cost of provision for institution, day-to-day expenses, transport, student supports, mental health, preparation for interviews, etc.

Following a competitive Call for Proposals and a rigorous assessment process by an independent assessment panel of external experts, 10 proposals were recommended for funding.

On the 9 February 2024, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD announced the successful programmes, which are due to commence in academic year 2024/2025.

Below is the list of higher education institutions who will receive funding under PATH 4 Phase 2:

Higher Education Institutions

Atlantic Technological University (ATU)
Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT)
Institute of Art, Design & Technology Dún Laoghaire (IADT)
Mary Immaculate College (MIC)
Munster Technological University (MTU)
South East Technological University (SETU)
Technological University (TU) Dublin
Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
University College Cork (UCC)
University of Galway

Launch Event PATH 4 Phase 2

Below are videos from the recent PATH 4 launch in the Gibson Hotel.

Please see below two video links to the event.

Funded 4-year PhD programme in the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin

The School of Education in Trinity College Dublin is offering an opportunity for a funded 4-year structured PhD programme (full time).

Under the supervision of Dr Donatella Camedda, there is a position for a structured PhD student,  funded for 4 years to work on the Inclusion of students with Intellectual Disabilities. The funding is provided by the Trinity Research Doctorate Award and it will cover €25K stipend per year + tuition fees. Full details of the award are on the Trinity School of Education Website: here.

Learning Without Limits: Celebrating the Work of TCIPD

The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities and Rethink Ireland are holding an event on Friday 27th October 2023 – 9:30 – 13:30 at the Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin, 182 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, DO2 F6N2.
This event aims to commemorate and reflect upon the remarkable progress made in inclusive education for individuals with intellectual disabilities over the past two decades within Trinity College Dublin.

Over the past 20 years, Trinity College has been a leader in the field of inclusive education. Developing from an initial pilot course in 2004, the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities has evolved to become a national and international best practice leader, creating a model of education that allows students to fulfil their potential through their academic, work placement and college life experience.

Following registration and an opportunity to connect over teas and coffees, there will be a welcoming address and speeches from special guests, before a launch into three thematic conversation salons hosted by TCPID students and graduates on the subjects of the academic experience, the college life experience, and the pathways to opportunity following college.

Then after reconvening participants will share the learnings from the morning, and reflect on the actions needed to grow the opportunities for inclusive higher education across the country and to address the barriers that exist for the young people now and in the future.

Register for the event on  Eventbrite here.

INHEF Chair 2023

Passing the Torch: Des Aston (TCD) Hands Over INHEF Chairpersonship to Dr. Órla Slattery (MIC)

In a significant moment for inclusive education in Ireland, Des Aston, is stepping down from his role as Chairperson of the Inclusive National Higher Education Forum (INHEF). Mr Aston’s long-standing dedication to championing inclusive education programmes for students with intellectual disabilities has paved the way for transformative changes within the Irish higher education landscape. Advocacy through INHEF, has led to the introduction of PATH 4 Phase 2, which will involve a three-year pilot to support an enhancement of course provision for students with intellectual disabilities and to inform future policy considerations in respect of students with intellectual disabilities in higher education as Des passes the baton to Dr. Órla Slattery from Mary Immaculate College Limerick, the future of inclusive education in Ireland appears brighter than ever before.

Dr. Órla Slattery

Over the past decade, educators across higher education institutions in Ireland have worked tirelessly to bridge the gaps in post-school provisions for students with intellectual disabilities. These educators have been instrumental in pioneering innovative educational programmes designed to empower students with intellectual disabilities and equip them with the skills necessary to lead more independent lives. These initiatives have not only provided a diverse academic curriculum but have also fostered essential transferable skills. Research, including work by Mr. Aston and Dr. Slattery, has underscored the tremendous impact of these programmes on students, showing increased self-esteem, confidence, social skills, and self-determination – ultimately opening doors to meaningful opportunities.

However, the path to establishing and maintaining inclusive education programmes has not been without its challenges. Course coordinators and educators have consistently gone above and beyond to ensure students receive a quality education and the full college/university experience. A significant hurdle for many has been the ‘add-on’ model of support, which often placed these programmes on the periphery of higher education rather than fully integrating them into mainstream activities.

In the absence of a dedicated platform to address systematic barriers faced by this population, individual course coordinators made admirable attempts to connect with one another. The year 2018 marked a turning point with the launch of the Inclusive National Higher Education Forum (INHEF). Under Mr. Aston’s guidance, INHEF became a collaborative space where higher education providers joined forces to drive strategic development, inform policy debates, and enhance capacity within institutions to establish and deliver initiatives for students with intellectual disabilities across the Republic of Ireland.

Left to right, front row: TCD Provost Patrick Prendergast, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor; Graduate Stephen Lyons, INHEF Chair Des Aston, Anne O’Byrne (MIC), Michael Shevlin (TCD).
Left to right, Back row: Deirdre Corby (DCU), Toff Andersen (DCU), Martina Neylon (TUS), Máire Leane (UCC), Edel Lynn (TUS), Órla Slattery (MIC), Sinéad Foran (WIT), Gina Grant (DETB).

As Des hands over the role of Chairperson to Órla, the future of INHEF and inclusive education in Ireland is filled with promise. Dr. Slattery’s extensive experience and commitment to the cause make her a formidable successor. Together with a dedicated team of educators, they are set to continue the legacy of empowering students with intellectual disabilities, fostering inclusive educational environments, and further dismantling barriers to higher education.

The handover of leadership symbolises the unyielding dedication of educators in Ireland to ensuring that every student, regardless of their perceived abilities, has equal access to quality higher education. Des Aston’s remarkable tenure as Chairperson of INHEF has laid a strong foundation, and his transition to a new role signifies not an end but a new beginning for inclusive education in Ireland. Under the guidance of Dr. Órla Slattery, INHEF will undoubtedly continue to shape the future of education for students with intellectual disabilities, embodying the principles of empowerment, inclusivity, and opportunity.

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