AHEAD Release Report on Numbers of Students with Disabilities – A new report released today by the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD)
finds that while numbers of students with disabilities participating in higher education continues to rise, significant barriers remain. A key finding is that students with disabilities make up 5.4% of the full time student population but only 1.1% of those studying part time and the report recommends allowing part-time students to access the same funding for supports granted to full-time students with disabilities.
Currently the Minister’s Fund for Students with Disabilities, which covers the cost of supports for students with disabilities in third level education, is only available to full time students.
Ann Heelan, Executive Director of AHEAD says “The funding in question is for educational support only. It covers things that students with disabilities need to participate on a level playing field and denying part time students access to these supports means denying them the chance to reach their educational potential.”
Ms Heelan elaborated “For students with certain types of disabilities, for instance chronic fatigue syndrome, part time study is a much more preferable and manageable study path, but the current funding situation is preventing many students from taking up these options. Those that do go the part-time route may not get the support they need to perform.”
The report entitled “Numbers of Students with Disabilities Studying in Higher Education in Ireland 2013/14” also highlights a decline in the number of deaf/hearing impaired students participating in higher education. While the total number of students with disabilities enrolled rose 7% year on year, the numbers of deaf/hearing impaired students dropped 6% in the same period, cementing a recent trend.
The report includes general statistics on numbers of students with disabilities as well as breakdown by disability profile, fields of study, exam accommodations, a postgraduate/undergraduate breakdown and much more.
There are now nearly 10,000 students with disabilities studying in higher education in Ireland, representing almost 5% of the total student population.