1. Disability Access Route to Education & Higher Education Access Route (updated Jan 2013)
Participation of students with disabilities in higher education is exceptionally low in comparison to their able bodied peers. In 2007/08 academic year, only 1,389 or 4.2% of all new entrants to higher education indicated that they had one or more disability (HEA, 2009) 1. These participation rates are well below the current national entry rates of 60% and lower than the entry rates of any socio economic group.
There has been a significant increase in the participation rates of students with disabilities in recent years due to a higher level of diagnosis and an increased provision of learning supports. Rates have risen from 0.65% in 1993/94 to 3.2% in 2005/2006 2. Whilst there has been a rise in the participation rates generally, progress has mainly been made in the increasing numbers of students with Specific Learning Difficulties while the number of students with physical and sensory disabilities has declined. Students who are blind or vision impaired for e.g. are still 50% less likely to progress from second to third level. 3
Figure 1 illustrates this trend.
Undergraduates with disabilities 93/94, 98/99, 05/06, 08/09
The numbers of students with disabilities and specific learning disabilities has increased substantially over the last decade years from 990 to 4392 students.
Profile of Students with Disabilities 08/09
60% of the students studying in HEIs have specific learning difficulties. However, the participation of students with physical and sensory disabilities has declined.
Reasonable accommodations in State Examinations in 2008-2009
Over 8000 students with disabilities received reasonable accommodations in State Examinations (Junior and Leaving Certificate) in 2008.
Over 9000 in 2009 and over 9500 in 2010.
3. National Access Targets
The National Access Plan has set a number of targets relating to participation rates for people with disabilities in higher education and plan to double the numbers of people with sensory, physical and multiple disabilities in higher education by 2013 (based on the 06/07 number of students who are in receipt of supports under the Fund for Students with Disabilities). (HEA 2008, p 65) 4.