DARE Initiative gains momentum as President McAleese lends her support

The campaign to attract more students with disabilities to Higher Education has been given a boost as President Mary McAleese lends her support. The President sent the following message:

“It gives me great pleasure to send my best wishes to the Disability Access Route to Education initiative. Through the DARE initiative, the participating third-level institutions aim to greatly increase the number of students with a disability participation in higher education. This initiative will allow candidates with disabilities compete for course places in an equitable, student-friendly way. I strongly support these efforts to allow more students with disabilities access to higher education opportunities.” Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.

Launched yesterday the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is aimed at all school leavers with disabilities. The initiative is being run by the seven universities, Athlone IT, DIT, National College of Ireland and the Mater Dei Institute of Education. This supplementary admissions scheme recognises the impact of disability on educational attainment and on progression to higher education. Approximately 300 students accepted places through DARE in 2009. The eleven participating colleges aim to greatly increase this number in 2010 by offering on average 5% of first year places on a reduced points basis.

Significant improvements have been made to the DARE scheme through funding provided by the government’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). The Disability Access Route to Education is now based on robust criteria, has a more streamlined application process through the CAO and is more student friendly. The purpose of the national launch is to make students, schools and organisations aware of the scheme and ultimately to encourage a greater number of applications. A dedicated website, www.accesscollege.ie, has been developed which contains full details of the scheme and will assist students in making their applications.

Due to the impact of their disability students may not be able to meet the leaving certificate points for their preferred college course. HEA figures confirm that in the 07/08 academic year, only 1,389 or 4.2% of all new entrants to higher education indicated that they had one or more disabilities. The DARE initiative will play a key role in driving towards the HEA target of doubling the number of students in 3rd level with sensory, physical and multiple disabilities by 2013.


For further information contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association. Telephone: 01 6764948, 085 7141414. Email: lia.osullivan@iua.ie

More Information:

Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) 2010 Brochure