An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. presented a Public Service Excellence Award to two college admission schemes the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) and the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) . The awards, which seek out improvements and innovative activities from the public sector, recognise the success of the DARE & HEAR schemes in increasing the numbers of students entering third level with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Since the schemes were made available to all secondary school students nationwide in 2009 HEAR has seen a 154% increase in applications and a 103% increase in acceptances. The number of acceptances of a college place through DARE has risen by over 300% from 214 in 2009 to 753 in 2011.
Accepting the award on behalf of the 18 higher education institutions operating the schemes Cliona Hannon, Chair of the DARE & HEAR Strategic Development Group said, “The DARE & HEAR schemes are a fantastic example of how higher education institutions can work collaboratively in the public interest. The schemes have significantly increased the number of talented, ambitious young adults with a disability or from a socio-economically disadvantaged background progressing to degree courses and this outcome will continue to have an impact on their families for generations to come. We are delighted the schemes are receiving national recognition”.
The schemes, with support from the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), have undergone major change and development over the last 3 years to help meet the HEA National Access Office targets of a 54% college entry rate for all socio-economic groups by 2020 and a doubling of the number of students in 3rd level with sensory, physical and multiple disabilities by 2013.
DARE and HEAR give a points reduction to disadvantaged students and students with disabilities thus increasing their chances of success in getting to Third Level. The schemes also offer a package of supports including academic, personal, financial and social supports. Access and Disability officers are on hand in each college to support students through the application process and continue to offer guidance and support throughout the student’s college life.
Since 2009, 295 students have accepted their places at NUI Maynooth through the HEAR Entry Route and 107 students have accepted places through the DARE Entry Route. There are currently 370 students registered with a disability at NUI Maynooth. Currently 17% of undergraduate students at Maynooth are mature entrants, 4% are disability students (including DARE-eligible and DARE-ineligible) and 5% are HEAR students. This means that approximately 25% of the general student body are supported by the Maynooth Access Programme.
For more information contact: Deirdre Watters, Communications Office, NUI Maynooth 01-708 3363
Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Awards 2012
The Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Awards are organised as part of the Government’s programme of Public Service reform. The Awards are held every two years to recognise and reward examples of excellence in the delivery of public services and/or administration, by public servants. Approximately 190 applications were received from public service organisations. All applications received were assessed by the Awards Selection Committee, and 20 selected projects will receive Awards at a Conference in Dublin Castle on 21 June, 2012.