By Helena Gillespie, University of East Anglia
In Alternative admissions schemes for young people with disabilities and from socioeconomic backgrounds, Dr Nic Fhlannchadha reviews the approach to contextual university admissions used in the Republic of Ireland. The scheme has two elements, the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) and the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR). The Republic of Ireland was recently commended by the European Union for its efforts in this area.
The report offers a description and analysis of the impact of the two schemes on admissions to higher education in the country. Data shows incremental numbers of students have been helped by the schemes since 2010 and the report now describes the initiative as mainstream. Students with a range of disabilities including specific learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorders and students with mental health conditions have been supported by DARE. The measures of socioeconomic barriers to access to higher education are based on factors such as in income and eligibility for social security benefits.
While such schemes are undoubtedly beneficial, universities and policy makers need to remember that access to higher education does not deliver social mobility in itself. Universities need to continue to address their attention to ensuring students are successful in gaining a good degree and getting a good job, commensurate this their potential. In this area, in the U.K. and beyond, there is still much to be done.