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Written Answers - Special Educational Needs

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 66.  Deputy Willie O’Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the proposals, if any, he has to improve the participation for persons with disabilities in third level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19409/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Actions to improve access to third level education are being progressed through the implementation of the six-year National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education (2008-2013). Key achievements to date include the development of access and lifelong learning plans in all higher education institutions funded by the Higher Education Authority. These include plans for the continuation and development of programmes of work with young people and adults in schools and communities, including those with disabilities. Recently published data from the HEA, based on information collected by 27 higher education institutions, show that 6.4% of new entrants to higher education in 2010-11 indicated they had one or more disabilities. This figure is a measure of the progress made in recent years, as previous estimates by Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) in 1993-94 indicated a participation rate of 0.65% of all undergraduates. A target specific to the participation of students with disabilities included in the National Access Plan was to double the number of students with sensory, physical and multiple disabilities in higher education by 2013. This target is related directly to the number of approvals for these categories of disabilities through the Fund for Students with Disabilities and 96% of the mid-term target (for 2010) was achieved. The Fund for Students with Disabilities allocates funding to further and higher education institutions to provide personal and academic supports to ensure the participation and retention in education of students with disabilities. The number of students supported by the fund has increased very substantially over recent years, rising by 200% between 2005 and 2010 (from 2,032 to 6,097 students supported).

[165]Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 53.

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