Minister Harris announces funding for a pioneering programme for students with intellectual disabilities

Published: 9 Feb, 2024

On Friday, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, announced the launch of higher education courses for students with an intellectual disability, including a Certificate in Independent Living that will be delivered by TU Dublin.

In addition, Minister Harris is announcing €1.8 million for inclusion measures, including rolling out sensory maps of college campuses to support autistic learners and for anti-racism measures, particularly to challenge racism for members of the Traveller and Roma communities.

TU Dublin's Certificate in Independent Living – Pathways Together Programme, which will be delivered on the University's Blanchardstown and Tallaght Campus, is a two-year full-time certificate course for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). Participants will study a range of modules under five themes: STEAM, Life Skills, Personal Development, Preparation for Work, and Advocacy and Citizenship. 

Commenting on the announcement, Sinéad Dunne, Senior Manager for Access and Outreach at TU Dublin, said, "This transformational educational opportunity will offer inclusive and personalised learning environments, unlocking a world of discovery for students with intellectual disabilities, helping them reach their full unique potential. Over two years, students will have the opportunity to explore different topics, such as science, visual art, and photography, in addition to taking classes preparing them for independent living and for the careers they will explore through a 12-month supported work placement with industry."

Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

“We know that people with an intellectual disability have not been represented adequately in Higher Education. We want and need our College Campuses to reflect communities.

“Today, we are making a change. Today we are opening doors and opportunities so that these learners can take their place among our college communities.

“That is why we are announcing expanded Higher Education course provision today with expected investment of over €10 million to support learners with an intellectual disability.

“Up until now, courses have been limited in location and availability but this investment will help change that and ensure there is equality of opportunity for every person in our country.”

Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte added:

"This is an important milestone for students. The projects being announced today will contribute to the Government's overall efforts to support people with disabilities by providing students with opportunities to develop their personal skills for life and to develop links with employers."