The Government aims to double the number of travellers participating in higher-level education by 2021.
The Action Plan to Promote Traveller Participation in Higher Education was launched on November 26th, as part of the National Access Plan for Higher Education 2015-2019 (now extended to 2021). The plan was developed in consultation with Traveller representative groups and aims to support and advance Traveller participation in higher education.
In October, the Department for Education and Skills released the Education Indicators for Ireland Report, which found that only 61 travellers were studying at third-level in 2017.
The National Access plan goal for 2019 was to have 80 members of the travelling community studying at third-level.
While it was an increase from the 41 “self-declared Irish travellers” that were participating in third-level in 2016, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor says that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to achieve this goal.
“Today’s plan is focused on achieving this goal, building on the good work already being done to widen access to higher education to people who traditionally have not seen it as a viable option for them,” she said.
“I am determined that Traveller young people, from an early age, will see going to college and having all the options that are available to other young people as a realistic future for them,” she continued.
The action plan was launched at TU Dublin, where Minister Mitchell O’Connell was accompanied by third-level students and recent graduates from the Travelling Community, who spoke on their own experiences of studying at universities and colleges around Ireland.
The plan’s actions include the development of student success strategies from all higher education institutions, as well as strengthening links between the Career Guidance Service and Home School Community Liaison Scheme in schools and access officers in higher education institutions.
According to the Minister, the plan also aims to address and break down the cultural barriers that tend to keep members of the Travelling community from participating in high education such as “discrimination, bullying and lack of understanding.”
“It is essential that we continue to work in partnership to identify and remove these barriers, creating a more accessible and more equal future for Travellers in our higher education institutions, which will benefit from their contribution,” she continued.
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