By Sorcha Jowitt
DCU Access celebrated its 21 year anniversary last week with a ceremony held in the Helix boasting a number of famous faces in the audience.
DCU President Brian MacCraith opened the ceremony describing education “as the greater enabler.”
Prof MacCraith commended the success of the students who have gone through the Access programme.
“Who needs X Factor when we have talent like this?” He continued, “90 per cent of Access graduates achieve a second class honours degree and Access also has a 93 per cent completion rate.”
Chancellor of DCU, Martin McAleese described the success rate as “very striking indeed” in a letter he sent to DCU’s President.
Presidential Candidate Mary Davis was also in attendance, “It is so refreshing to take time out to enjoy the talent and richness of our young people.”
Access awards grant style financial aid to students coming into DCU “irrespective of social class, age or disability,” according to the Access website.
Some of DCU’s recent Access graduates wrote their own pieces on their progress through the programme in the 21st celebratory brochure available on the day.
Journalist and radio DJ Matt Cooper explained how he understood the difficulties to do with attending third level education in the current economic climate.
“When it came to my turn I remember in our whole class of 37… 21, myself included, of us where in a situation where no one in our house was working… for many ways sort of similar to what they have become again unfortunately,” he said.
Local TD John Lyons also reflected on his journey through the Access scheme from his days in Ballymun and National University of Ireland Maynooth.
“I went through the programme now known as Access…it allowed me to see college as an option.”
Members of the Access programme also spoke and gave details of their aspirations for the programme’s future as the latest strategic plan for Access was launched the same day.
“Prof MacCraith has been heavily involved with the three year plan. He consulted with CTYI a few months ago,” said Head of Access and Student Recruitment, Ita Tobin.
Later in the afternoon celebration awards took place for the students in the schools participating in the programme.