DIT drops Garda vetting requirement for mature students in “second chance” programme

DIT have discarded the requirement of Garda vetting for mature students when applying to its ‘second chance education’ programme after controversial public opinion.

The third level institution wanted to bring in the vetting for its Access Foundation Scheme as most follow-on courses from the programme in DIT include work placement deal with children and vulnerable adults.

Critics of the proposed requirement included students, staff and politicians including Dublin City Councillor Gary Gannon and Independent Senator Lynn Ruane.

DIT Admissions Officer Frank Costello announced the decision to not include the vetting as a requirement application stage to the one-year programme after “taking on board feedback, in particular from former students on the programme but also from its wider constituency.”

Senator Ruane, a past pupil of DIT’s access course, expressed her delight at DIT’s backtracking of their decision.

“Obviously, that was the outcome we were looking for so we’re very happy. I think DIT acted on it quick enough that it might not have caused any long term stigmas around the students that are looking to access the programme,” said Ruane.

The Access Foundation Scheme is open to young adults and mature students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to prepare for third level education. A large proportion of students who complete the programme are guaranteed a place in a DIT CAO course, a unique aspect to the programme.

Before the reversal of the decision, a spokesperson from DIT said that “It was felt this [not having vetting for the Access programme] would prevent a student being accepted onto the programme and subsequently finding themselves disbarred from participating in activities, being restricted from placements and possibly not complete their programme.”

DIT did not offer any explanation behind their decision to reverse their plans for the vetting of students applying to the programme, however Ruane believes it may have just been a “blind decision by someone who hadn’t really thought of the effect it could have and when it was pointed out that it was actually a negative move.”

Close to 30 per cent of DIT courses require Garda vetting due to work placement with children and vulnerable adults. Similarly, specific UCD and TCD courses require Garda vetting, yet it is not required in the application process.

Clara Hickey