IT Sligo is providing individuals across Ireland with the opportunity to access education from their living rooms. According to a report by Disability Federation of Ireland, 43pc of people with disabilities have not progressed beyond primary education, in comparison with 19pc of all adults. Only 24.5pc of people with disabilities have completed third-level education, compared to 38.7pc of the general population.
Many people cannot make regular trips to learn on campus, for example, due to underlying health conditions, disabilities, or caring for family members. That is why two new programmes are now available through the CAO to start in September through a new initiative, ‘Higher Education for All’.
These programmes include:
- BA Writing and Literature (Hons) Level 8 (SG254)
- BSc Health and Medical Information Science Level 7 (SG530)
Louise O’Gorman, Project Manager at the Institute of Technology Sligo who is responsible for the roll-out of the new programmes, says, “We are offering an innovative model of learning to facilitate equality of opportunity and access to higher education. With our strong commitment to quality and academic excellence, we will assist students via a number of pre-enrolment tools available. We want to help build their self-confidence, help them to evaluate their skills and strengths, and provide the most appropriate supports throughout the course.”
These two courses are also aimed at family carers. Only one-in-three family carers will make the transition from secondary school to third-level according to Padraig McGrath, a Young Carer Development Officer for Family Carers Ireland. The invisibility of family carers has meant support is often lacking in society at all levels, especially education. Ireland has over 30,000 young carers and many have huge difficulties finding the time to study, as most young carers are not entitled to any respite whatsoever.
Padraig says, “Many young carers struggle through secondary school due to the commitments at home and the idea of going to college is unimaginable when they are needed by family members 24/7.” He also added it is mainly down to time and finance, “Depending on where you live, you have less chance of getting respite in the northwest region. And if you study more than 18.5 hours a week, you won’t be entitled to carers allowance.”
Higher Education for All is an initiative in partnership with IT Sligo, Mayo Sligo Leitrim Education and Training Board (ETB), Donegal ETB, Disability Federation of Ireland and Family Carers Ireland. In the wake of the current global crisis and the financial uncertainties that go with it, these programmes offer parents/guardians the peace of mind of knowing their child is not exposed to health risks, as well as alleviate financial pressures facing the household. This is particularly important for children that are in high-risk categories due to health
For those who wonder if they may miss out on the social element of a campus-based programme, IT Sligo is developing opportunities to engage with a virtual campus. This is where online students would have access to experiencing the vibe of the campus with daily live footage of the campus, shared lunchtime space (a virtual canteen), online involvement with the Students’ Union and Clubs and Societies, and campus social events/ activities through ‘live’ technology. No one should ever miss out on central aspects of college due to their circumstances.
CAO Change of Mind is closing on July, 1st, visit www.cao.ie to apply for the full-time online programmes.