Irish Colleges Run Fewer Courses For Those With Disabilities

A report has found that colleges are not doing enough to provide courses for students who suffer from intellectual disabilities.

The report compiled by the organisation Walk, identified a “culture a low expectations” and a “limited supply of appropriate training courses” with regards to courses catering for those with intellectual disabilities.

The report said that: “colleges run fewer courses at FETAC/QQI level 3 and below, which is the level that many prospective students with intellectual disability are seeking. Such programmes are being delivered, if at all, by other providers, such as community education organisations.”

The report found this to be “perhaps the most significant” obstacle for people with intellectual disabilities seeking post-primary education.

The Economic and Social Research Institute said in 2011, only 4 per cent of people with an intellectual disability had a third level degree while 63 per cent do not progress to second level education.

In addition to the low amounts of students with intellectual disabilities obtaining third level degrees, far fewer are able to access grants when attending college part-time or studying for courses below FETAC level. From the 8,840 students with intellectual disabilities in higher education in the year 2007-2008, only 3.7 per cent accessed grants.

According to parents and service providers, an attitude exists within educational circles that questions the point of a student “who isn’t going to qualify” going to college. They went on to say that: “Several people felt this was a particular barrier that undercut a lot of attempts to mainstream access – the idea of education and learning as an economic output rather than as an entitlement.”

The Walk report received funding from the EU and Irish equality authorities.

Andrew Ralph

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