Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Admissions
367. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if colleges or universities that receive funding from his Department have asked students with disabilities or underlying health conditions to defer their place for a year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30356/20]
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are autonomous bodies and as such are entitled to regulate their own academic affairs and administrative processes. Decisions on deferral of college places are a matter for individual institutions, and I have not been made aware of any HEI having a policy of requesting that students with disabilities or underlying health conditions defer their place.
As education providers, it is the responsibility of each HEI to put in place appropriate supports to ensure that the needs of students of disabilities are met. Each institution has an access and disability service in place to support students with disabilities. Students who feel that they may require supports from their institution should contact the access or disability service who will carry out a needs assessment in collaboration with the student. These supports will continue to be provided, as appropriate, where any online or blended learning takes place.
The Fund Students with Disabilities (FSD) provides funding to higher and further education institutions to assist them in offering supports and services to eligible students with disabilities so that they can access, fully participate in and successfully complete their chosen course of study. This supports the overall goals of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education. In 2019 funding of €9.6m was allocated to the FSD (covering both the higher education and further education sectors as well as Irish students studying in the UK and EU). The type of supports covered include:
- Non-medical helpers;
- Academic/learning support;
- Deaf supports;
- Transport supports.