Cormac Gilnagh- University College Dublin

Course: Law and French Law

From: Dublin

Cormac Gilnagh

Cormac Gilnagh

Cormac is a 20-year-old studying his undergraduate degree at the University College of Dublin. He’s come from a family of five and is the first in my family to have completed the Leaving Certificate and to continue onto third level education. His drive and passion to make it to 3rd level education was instilled into him by his parents. His strong work ethic has been developed through  many part-time jobs over the years. At times he has held three jobs while being a full-time student in UCD. He came to university as a shy and reserved young adult, not completely confident or sure in who he was. He is now an exuberant, energetic and proud gay male with an aspiration to become a barrister in Ireland. He studies the BCL/Maitrise degree in UCD which allows him to graduate with two degrees at the end of four years. He is currently studying at Université Toulouse 1 Capitole in Toulouse, France and is  furthering his cultural experience and cultivating lifelong friendships and trying his best to succeed in the strange times we find ourselves in.

“University has been a transformative time for me and it is one I am grateful to have been able to experience. It has shown me that while I may be alone in my personal set of circumstances, I am not alone in the experience. There are plenty of people who come from ‘disadvantaged’ families and thrive in university. There are thousands of diverse people in University and being part of that community allows you to develop into the person you want to be. University has also allowed me to be grateful for the people around me but has highlighted the fact that we treat university as an amenity and not a right. While I am profoundly grateful for my experience I do believe there is more we can do for the under-represented groups in our society. ”

UCD Access & Disability Fast Facts

  • 24 staff members work in working in access and disability at UCD.
  • UCD enrolled 5,500 undergraduate students in Sept. 2020, of which 1,500 were admitted through various access pathways
  • Over the past 3 years 683 students have registered at UCD under the HEAR scheme and 932 under the DARE scheme.
  • In the past ten years, the number of students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders supported in UCD has doubled.
  • The number of students with ADD/ADHD now supported by the University has grown from 21 in 2010 to 225 in 2019.
  • There are also triple the number of students with physical disabilities than there were ten years ago.
  • There has also been a significant increase in students with Mental Health Conditions seeking supports. Making up 9% of those supported in 2010, they accounted for 26.5% of those availing of supports in 2019-20.
  • Over the past 3 years 2220 mature students have registered at UCD and 264 through their foundation programme.
  • In 2019, 33,973 students were enrolled, of which 17,186 were undergraduates. A total of 29% were international students, while 32% represent a diversity of backgrounds, including disabilities, low-income, mature, ethnic minorities, lone parents, refugees, and asylum seekers.
  • UCD established a 33% access target by 2019 with seven additional entry routes to meet the needs of this diverse cohort.
  • University for All is a whole-institutional approach to inclusion in UCD. This initiative brings together the entire university community to work together to achieve our goal of becoming a fully inclusive, diverse institution.
  • Well known access and disability alumni include: Caroline Casey – social entrepreneur, disability activist, Dr Paula Williams – Global Affairs, Intel, Cait O’ Riordan, former Pogues band member, musician and Samantha Libreri, Journalist, RTE
Dr Anna Kelly

UCD Access & Lifelong Learning Director

“UCD Access & Lifelong Learning has taken the bold step to reimagine itself and our University community, through pioneering the development of an inclusive university, which we call University for All, where all students feel welcome; their experience, perspective and opinions are respected and valued – in short, they belong. We think that this documentary will show students, families and communities from north, south, east and west, that they belong in higher education. We look forward to welcoming them to our campus, we are expecting them. There are many pathways to university, and we hope that more people will learn through this programme that university is achievable.”

Key Access & Disability Contacts