IUA Access Programme Manager – closed

Overview of the Project:

Promoting wider and more equitable access to higher education is a key strategic objective of Government and higher education institutions alike. This IUA-led project, currently involving 20 institutions, seeks to further the goals of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019.

The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) and Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) are third level admission schemes for students with disabilities and students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds respectively. In the course of the last nine years, DARE and HEAR have established themselves as the primary vehicles through which participating HEIs reach institutional and national targets for the admission and progression of students with disabilities and socio-economically disadvantaged students to and through higher education. 

Further information about the DARE and HEAR Schemes can be found on www.accesscollege.ie

Following approval by HEI Registrars in April 2017 of a Framework to Support Future DARE HEAR Management, Operations and Policy Direction, overall responsibility for DARE HEAR policy direction and management oversight has been delegated by participating HEIs to the Access Steering Group for Higher Education Institutions (ASG for HEIs) until October 2020. The ASG for HEIs provides policy direction and management oversight of the DARE and HEAR supplementary admissions routes, and acts as a forum to foster and facilitate inter-institutional, inter-agency and inter-organisational collaboration in respect of broader access and widening participation matters.

An overview of the main programme objectives for the period until October 2020 can be found in Appendix 1.

On behalf of the ASG for HEIs, the IUA now seeks to recruit an Access Programme Manager. The main functions of the role are to support the work of the ASG for HEIs and associated structures in widening access to higher education, ensure the delivery of operations associated with DARE HEAR that are outside the remit of the CAO, and work closely with the CAO DARE HEAR co-ordinator to ensure the intended operational outcomes of DARE HEAR policy and criteria.


Overview of the role:

The Access Programme Manager will report to the ASG for HEIs and to the IUA Director of Academic Affairs. 


  • Working as appropriate with the Access Steering Group for HEIs, the DARE HEAR Operations Sub-group, the Advisory Boards and the CAO Co-ordinator, collate and present draft instructions (for processing an application and directing prospective applicants and schools) for the consideration of the Operations Sub-group.
  • Working with the CAO Co-ordinator and CAO staff, support the interpretation and operationalisation of agreed instructions.
  • Working with the CAO Co-ordinator and HEI experts (from the DARE HEAR Practitioners Group), monitor assessment and application outcomes, ensuring that the instruction has produced the intended result. a
  • Working with all the standing groups, monitor DARE HEAR data to strengthen the schemes’ evidence base and identify/escalate emerging policy issues and risks.
  • Co-ordinate and align the work of the Operations Sub-group and the Access Steering Group for HEIs and interface with CAO on operational matters on behalf of HEIs.
  • Produce and disseminate on-going and annual reports for the consideration of the schemes’ standing groups to facilitate discussion, identify/mitigate risk and inform policy direction.
  • Act as a single point of contact/interface for the CAO, HEIs and stakeholders groups in relation to criteria and policy related matters (e.g. Ombudsman issues, complex, disputed application outcomes).
  • Steward criteria related strategic stakeholder relationships, e.g. Institute of Guidance Counsellors, National Educational Psychological Service, the Department of Social Protection, etc., staying abreast of wider developments which could (i) impact the DARE-HEAR work plan (ii) facilitate joined up approaches to the mitigation of risk or (iii) present opportunities to improve sectoral synergies.
  • Support HEIs to build capacity to actively participate in and contribute the expertise required to run the schemes.
  • Work with the CAO, Operations Sub-group and Access Steering Group for HEIs, to support the integration of new HEIs into DARE HEAR.


Profile of Candidate:

This is primarily a management role on a very visible national project with high policy relevance. The most critical qualities for this role are:

  • Highly developed communication, negotiation and liaison skills, evidenced by the ability to build productive professional relationships and consensus
  • Demonstrated ability to operate with tact and diplomacy and to manage competing interests.
  • In-depth knowledge of access policies, practices and programmes in the higher education sector in Ireland
  • Demonstrated project and people management skills and experience of working collaboratively.
  • Strong IT, organisational, planning and writing skills.
  • Possess relevant research, critical thinking and evaluation skills.
  • Experience of similar complex projects in this or a related field would be an advantage
  • A post-graduate qualification in a relevant area.


Appendix 1

The main programme objectives for 2017-20 period are:

  • Support and deliver a continued collaborative, co-ordinated and strategic approach to DARE and HEAR policy issues and support HEI and stakeholder collaboration in respect of common sectoral widening participation challenges.
  • To ensure the Access Steering Group for HEIs, the DARE HEAR Operations Sub-Group, DARE HEAR Practitioners’ group continue to operate as set out by HEI Registrars and there is a robust management structure in place for DARE HEAR.
  • Ensure the delivery of the Research & Evaluation plan and that all relevant stakeholders, have the opportunity to engage with any observations, findings or recommendations.
  • To lead on and ensure delivery of any development work associated with DARE HEAR or other areas of widening participation as defined and determined by the participating HEIs.
  • Support HEIs to strengthen their capacity to actively participate in the schemes and in particular provide initial support to new HEIs joining the schemes.
  • To work with the participating HEIs to facilitate the continued exploration of opportunities and sectoral synergies and ensure further streamlining and integration takes place.


Contract Details
The position is offered on a full-time basis on a fixed term contract ending 31st October 2020, and subject to a period of probation and meeting on-going performance requirements. A competitive salary commensurate with experience will be offered.

A secondment arrangement for existing public sector employees may be possible, subject to concluding an appropriate agreement between the IUA and the candidate’s current employer.


Please forward a detailed CV and cover letter, demonstrating the competencies and experience listed above, by post or email by 7th January 2018 to:

Jennifer Cleary, HR Manager, IUA, 48 Merrion Square, Dublin 2 

E-mail:            jennifer.cleary@iua.ie

Shortlisted candidates must be available for interview on 19th January 2018

Applications submitted by or through third parties, including recruitment agencies, will be rejected.

The IUA is an equal opportunities employer.


IUA Job Spec Access Programme Manager Dec 2017 (388 downloads)