Owen Ward – NUI Galway

Course: Masters in Post Primary education

From: Galway

Owen Ward

Owen is a native of Galway City and a member of the Irish travelling community. Despite being an early school leaver, with no Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate, and upon successful completion of the NUI Galway Access Programme, he has graduated with a B.A. (Hons) and Masters in Post Primary education (PME).  He is a Programme Coordinator at the Access Centre, NUI Galway, and a Committee member of Údarás na hOllscoile (NUI Galway Governing Authority), the first Irish Traveller to be elected to a university governing authority in Ireland.  Owen played a key role in the establishment of the University of Sanctuary scholarships at NUI Galway which are open to International Protection Applicants, refugees, vulnerable immigrant groups, and Irish Travellers.  He is committed to widening participation in higher education of students from diverse and socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Availing of the opportunity to progress into University has had a transformative effect on my life. I have achieved, what I always thought was the unachievable. Being the first in my family to graduate from third level education has demonstrated that with a strong scaffolding of supports, you can overcome adversity and be successful in education. For those who are thinking about progressing into higher education but are doubtful, my advice would be to believe in you, avail of all the supports, make friends, memories, have fun and this will ensure that you will be successful in higher education. ”

NUI Galway Access & Disability Fast Facts

  • Every year approximately 1000 students from underrepresented groups enter NUI Galway.
  • Over the last three years 753 students have entered NUI Galway through the HEAR scheme and 568 through the DARE scheme.
  • Of the students with disabilities 29% had a Specific Learning Difficulty, 24% had a Mental Health diagnosis and 14% had a Significant Ongoing Illness.
  • Over the last three years 297 mature students, 236 FE students and 559 foundation year students registered at NUI Galway
  • NUI Galway has exceeded all the national targets for widening participation of under-represented groups.
  • Initiatives that NUI Galway is most proud of include:
    • NUI Galway is a University of Sanctuary  – 18 University of Sanctuary Scholarships have been awarded to date. Currently 6  students are in year 1 and 10  students  in year 2 with 2 graduands of Master’s programmes
    • 28 students have benefited from the 1916 Scholarships over the last 4 years with the first 2 scholars are graduating this year.
    • NUI Galway has recently celebrated 20 Years of Access – and the University’s efforts to ensure higher education is within reach for all members of society.

Head of Access Centre at NUI Galway

“Our belief is that Access is more than a student’s initial pathway into higher education. For those from traditionally under-represented groups, we believe Access means students having the supports to successfully participate and remain in higher education, to achieve graduation and the opportunity thereafter to progress in their chosen career or to further postgraduate study.

As a University we remain committed to diversity and equality of opportunity, to combating educational disadvantage in our region and beyond, and to ensuring university education is for everyone. This documentary shows that NUI Galway supports all students from all backgrounds succeed, irrespective of their circumstances of birth.

Key Access & Disability Contacts