Holly Farrell – Dublin City University

Course: BA English & Human Development

From: Bunclody, Wexford

Holly Farrell

Holly Farrell

Originally from Bunclody, Co.Wexford, Holly and her family moved to Dublin when she was 11. Having lost both of her parents by the age of 17, Holly settled in Ballina, Co. Tipperary to carry out her Leaving Cert year. While she was surrounded by exceptional school staff and the support of family, the challenges of adjusting to new living arrangements, settling into a new school and grief impacted on her Leaving Cert preparations. Holly faced further issues with college related applications, due to her status, as she was ‘not an available option’ on any of these forms. It was at this point that she connected with Access DCU, who were able to offer university specific advice and assistance. With the support of her school community, extended family and the Access team, in tandem with her own resilience and determination, Holly successfully completed secondary school and began her journey as a DCU Access Student, studying English and Human Development. Holly is also a UNICEF Youth Ambassador and Child Rights Activist.

“My university experience was about so much more than the academic side of things. I learned just as much, if not more, about myself and life as I did about my degree subjects. Don’t be afraid to reach out! Universities have incredible support systems for students, which people can overlook or be unaware of. No matter what the issue, big or small, I’ve always found there’s someone ready to help. ”

DCU Access & Disability Fast Facts

  • DCU has the oldest and largest Higher Education Access Programme in Ireland.
  • 14 staff work in Access/Disability in DCU.
  • 93% of Access students who enter DCU complete third-level education.
  • Over the past 10 years, 92% of Access graduates achieved a 1st or 2nd class honours degree. From 2011 to 2019 this figure has increased to 97-98%.
  • The employment rate for DCU Access graduates is 96% with 85% of Access graduates employed in an area directly related to their degree.
  • There were 1,158 Access students studying in DCU in 2019/20, with 285 students entering the first year in September 2019.
  • Over the last 3 years 939 students entered first year through the HEAR Scheme and 615 through the DARE scheme.
  • DCU are delighted with the increase in students on the autism spectrum from 4.5% in 2016 to 8% in 2019.
  • 10,000 primary and secondary school students in the North Dublin Region, partake in DCU Access  initiatives yearly.
  • Our Access to the Workplace programme saw 50 access students placed with 38 employers for a summer internship (2019).
  • Over the last 3 years 437 mature students entered first year at DCU
  • Initiatives DCU are most proud of include:
Cathy McLoughlin

Cathy McLoughlin
Head of Access Service DCU

“In DCU, we are fortunate as access and widening participation is part of the university’s DNA, access students were part of the very first cohort of students who entered this new university in 1990. We encourage those who believe they do not have the ability or they will not fit in, to realise that a University is a community of people from different backgrounds – there is no right or wrong ‘person’.”

Key Access & Disability Contacts