Promoting equality of opportunity in higher education is a national priority that has been fundamental to the role of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) since its foundation in the early 1970s. In that time we have seen considerable progress across the Irish education sector, but there are still groups in our society who are very under-represented in higher education. This social inequity must be addressed and this National Access Plan is targeted at bringing about real and sustainable change.
Ireland is well on the road to recovery after the economic shocks of recent years. If this is to be sustainable, however, more graduates will be needed to supply the expertise and skills required in vital areas of our economy. We must, for economic and social reasons, ensure that talent from all parts of society is mobilised. This National Access Plan provides us with a framework of actions that, over the next five years, will make available the skills and talents of people from groups in our society that have not accessed higher education up to now.