College awareness week promotes third level education to students from all backgrounds

Aoife McMahon

College Awareness Week (CAW) is a national campaign that takes place from the 17th until the 23rd of November.

It aims to promote the advantages of college to students from different backgrounds across Ireland.

DCU Access were heavily involved this year and organised three main events throughout the week, while also visiting some schools. Their events included two presentations in DCU one for girls and one for boys that 400 students attended in total.

They also organised an information session targeted at parents in Erin’s Isle GAA Club. This session was not only designed to provide information on their children accessing college but also for themselves returning as mature students.

Head of DCU Access, Cathy McLoughlin, said the idea behind the talks was to show that “just because you’re from a disadvantaged background, or you’re seen from an area where people don’t traditionally go to college, or a school where people don’t go to college, that doesn’t mean that this has to apply to you.”

McLoughlin said one of the challenges they face during CAW is that so many schools want them to come out and give talks and they are only a small team of eight. To solve this, they “tried to centralize it into us (DCU), that way we can reach more people and also bring something the schools couldn’t access like the industry speakers and academics.”

They did, however, get a chance to visit Trinity Comprehensive School who invited them to give a workshop on Monday and their diaries are full of plans to get to some more schools before the end of November. DCU’s open days also took place the weekend before CAW started.

The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, highlighted the importance of CAW and emphasised the other pathways available to students through apprenticeships, traineeships and Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said, “College Awareness Week provides us with a vital opportunity to showcase the range of options available to all our students looking to progress through the education system. It is important that we look to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds who proceed to higher education.”

The Minister drew attention to the increased number of apprenticeships available through the Government’s Action Plan to expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship and said, “Budget 2020 saw an additional €27 million to support the huge growth in apprenticeships and at the end of 2020 the apprenticeship population will have doubled over 2016 figures.”

Aoife McMahon

Image Credit: Flickr