University of Galway launches Widening Participation Report

Minister of State Anne Rabbitte T.D. officially opens the Access Centre at University of Galway, alongside University President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Head of the Access Centre Imelda Byrne and Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar at University of Galway. Credit - Aengus McMahon.
Dec 02 2022 Posted: 15:48 GMT

Minister of State Anne Rabbitte officially opens Access Centre offices at University

Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and at the Department of Health, Anne Rabbitte, T.D. has launched University of Galway’s first annual report on Widening Participation and officially opened the Access Centre’s new office.

Research by the University shows the overall number of students from traditionally underrepresented groups are continuing to grow at University of Galway.

With that growth in participation, the new Access Centre offices will provide an important source of support to ensure that students can access, participate and succeed at third level.

Minister of State Anne Rabbitte T.D. said: “Over the past 20 years, staff in the Access Centre along with their University colleagues have worked to offer the best student experience, to advocate for and to impart their knowledge to students, many of whom face significant obstacles on their educational journey. With the opening of the Access Centre at University of Galway and the publication of the annual Widening Participation report I am confident that the University is committed to building on what has been achieved to date and to finding ways to help others to enhance their educational future, and to remain committed to diversity and equality of opportunity, to combating educational disadvantage in the region and beyond, and to ensuring university education is for everyone.”

The University’s Widening Participation report outlines key achievements to increase the equality of opportunity for students who traditionally would be regarded as underrepresented in higher education, including, the number of students entering University of Galway through specific entry routes other than the Leaving Certificate and CAO system. 

  • Students registering for disability supports

Since 2015/16 to 2020/21, there has been a more than 100% increase in students registering for the Disability Support Service at the University. The service is available to University of Galway students who need support or reasonable accommodations due to the impact of a disability, ongoing physical or mental health condition, or a specific learning difficulty.

  • Further Education and Training (FET) 

The establishment of the Further Education to Higher Education Working Group at the University brought together key stakeholders from across the University and local Further Education providers to expand the number and breadth of undergraduate opportunities available for students coming through from Further Education and Training. 

This opening up of opportunities at University of Galway has produced significant results with a 211% increase in the number of students entering University of Galway from Further Education and Training over a four year period.

  • HEAR and DARE

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) are two national schemes developed by HEI’s to increase the number of students entering HE who have a disability (DARE) or who come from socio-economically disadvantaged groups (HEAR) in society.

Over 10 years since the 2010/11 academic year, more than 4,100 students were welcomed to the University under the two Government initiatives.

  • Socio-Economic

Almost one in 10 of our University’s student population have a socio-economic profile of disadvantage and 32% of students have a socio-economic profile of marginally below average. 

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of University of Galway, said: “A key component of this report is looking at the data we have on underrepresented students and learning from what has been achieved so far, so that we can continue to develop a university community that is more reflective of society and that leads the way in changing our society. This is a challenge and responsibility for us all. The widening participation activities outlined in this report are a testament to our commitment to our values of openness, respect, excellence and sustainability, and in this report, we see the outcomes of this commitment for the public good.”

Imelda Byrne, Head of Access Centre at University of Galway, said: “This report outlines the broad range of work that has been done to increase the diversity of the University population and the efforts being made to ensure a whole-of-institution approach to widening participation. We are proud of the progress we have made so far but recognise that more still can be done to further extend opportunities to under-represented groups.”

Dr Daniel Savery, Widening Participation Officer at the University’s Access Centre, said: “This report provides clear evidence that we have made significant progress in widening participation and creating a more inclusive environment for students from traditionally underrepresented groups in University of Galway. It is through collaboration that this has been achieved to date, and we look forward to building on these achievements.”

A copy of the report is available at 


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