My Uni Life: seven students with a unique journey to a university education

A picture of UCD Access Student, Adam Freegrove

The Irish Universities Association has partnered with RTÉ to create My Uni Life, a five-part series which follows the lives of seven students at various stages of their university journey, including University College Dublin Medical Student Adam Freegrove.

UCD enrolled 5,500 undergraduate students in Sept. 2020, of which 1,500 were admitted through various access pathways. 32% of UCD’s student population represent a diversity of backgrounds, including disabilities, low-income, mature, ethnic minorities, lone parents, refugees, and asylum seekers. UCD is proud to call itself a University for All, where all students feel welcome, belong and are valued.

Filmed over the past 12 months, the series provides a unique and authentic insight into the lives of seven students across the country, as they navigate through personal challenges and the current Covid-19 pandemic while trying to grapple with the move to remote learning.

Dubliner Adam Freegrove is a Medical Student at University College Dublin. Adam entered university through the HEAR Scheme. A carer for his disabled mother, Adam felt compelled to study medicine because of the experience of losing his grandfather to cancer. “The documentary has made me realise exactly how lucky I've been to come from where I did. It's just redoubled my resolve to continue doing what I'm doing and do the best I can and be the best I can be. I want to make my family proud of what they've helped me become. More than anything though, I hope that people will take away from it that things can and most likely will be horrible, but it doesn't mean they always will be. That it is never what you're dealing with, just how you deal with it. When you feel like you're losing, the act of not giving up is a victory.” 

Each student comes from a different background, accessing university through a variety of routes, but with determination that is key to the personal difficulties they have faced. Whether it’s dealing with the challenges of having a disability, the stereotypes associated with socially disadvantaged backgrounds or having the courage to go to university at a later stage in life, these students represent just 7 out of more than 5000 students each year whose desire to succeed at third level education is facilitated and supported by the Access and Disability programmes run by Irish Universities.  

Commenting on the impact of access services at UCD, Dr Anna Kelly, Director of Access and Lifelong learning at UCD said; “UCD Access & Lifelong Learning has taken the bold step to reimagine itself and our University community, through pioneering the development of an inclusive university, which we call University for All, where all students feel welcome; their experience, perspective and opinions are respected and valued – in short, they belong. We think that this documentary will show students, families and communities from north, south, east and west, that they belong in higher education. We look forward to welcoming them to our campus, we are expecting them. There are many pathways to university, and we hope that more people will learn through this programme that university is achievable.” 

Beginning on Friday November 6th 2020 at 7.30pm, the series will run for five weeks across RTÉ One featuring seven different students and their own personal journeys to higher education. The students are: Adam Freegrove from Dublin studying at UCD; Cathal Blake from Meath studying at DCU; Alpha Ike from Cavan studying at MU; Courtney McGrath from Cavan studying at TCD; Chrisdina O’Neill from Cork studying at UCC; Shaun Fogarty from Tipperary studying at UL, and Róisín Farragher from Galway studying at NUI Galway.

Documentary Trailer