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New UCD Access and Lifelong Learning Centre opens in main library building

Posted December 08, 2016

  • New centre supports equality of access aims of UCD Strategy and National Plan for Equity of Access to Education

A new purpose built centre for UCD Access and Lifelong Learning (ALL) has opened in the James Joyce Library building.

The opening was attended by Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD and University College Dublin President, Professor Andrew Deeks.

Located at the heart of Belfield, UCD ALL aims to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who attend third-level education. This number is increasing with 28.5% of more than 16,000 current undergraduate students coming from these groups.

UCD ALL also offers a range of support services and a dedicated widening participation committee to help integrate students with their peers.

Pictured top (l-r): Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD; UCD Registrar and Deputy President, Prof Mark Rogers;
UCD President, Prof Andrew Deeks; Julie Tonge, UCD ALL Disability Adviser and UCD student Conor Lynott
at the official opening of the UCD Access and Lifelong Learning Centre

These include students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who enter through the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and those with a disability who come through the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE).

UCD ALL supports the aim of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Education to mainstream equality of access so that the Irish student body “reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland’s population.”

This objective is a foundation of the UCD Strategy 2015 – 2020. The opening of the new centre maintains the university’s focus on achieving this outcome. UCD continues to gather data to measure its progress.

Pictured centre: the new open plan space of the UCD Access and Lifelong Learning Centre meets the principles of universal design

Together with HEAR and DARE, UCD has four other alternative entry routes. Mature Years offers places to those over the age of 23; two University Access courses prepare students for third-level and guarantee admission to undergraduate degree programmes and Lifelong Learning offers third-level modules to those who want to undertake informal learning.

Through UCD Alumni Access Champions, scholarships are available to students who require financial assistance. This fund has reached approximately €1 million. 

A report evaluating the UCD Future You Mentoring Programme was also launched at the opening. Future You is a mentoring programme for fifth year school students who aim to attend third level education. Mentors are past pupils that live in the same communities as participating schools.

As a result of the report, UCD has redesigned its outreach strategy to work with specific communities in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin Council districts. Future You aims to work collaboratively with community members to foster confidence and develop an understanding of the possibilities that higher education offers.

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations