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University of Galway’s Access Centre celebrates 25 years of success

University of Galway’s Access Centre celebrates 25 years of successOver its first quarter of a century, the Access Centre at University of Galway has given more than 3,500 students a foothold on the third-level education ladder – and a chance to find the path to a better life.

That’s how many students it has supported since its foundation in 1999 – with the numbers of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in university continuing to grow.

This week marked the 25th anniversary of its establishment – and the celebrations were led by Mayor of Galway, Cllr Eddie Hoare, who unveiled a plaque at the Access Centre offices.

He was also guest of honour at the Uni4U awards ceremony which provides experience of university for sixth class pupils in Deis and Link primary schools in Galway.

Head of the Access Centre Imelda Byrne reflected on what she acknowledged was a significant milestone for the Access Centre.

“More than 3,500 students have participated on our programmes, which is 3,500 people whose lives have been significantly changed by the opportunities which we have been able to give them,” she said.

“Our focus is on supporting and empowering people in the Galway city and county, the western region, the border counties, and the midlands, to give them a path into higher education and to address the barriers which they experience.

“Our ambition is to ensure everyone has equal access to higher education and that no-one feels like an outsider. We are proud of the huge impact we have had, and we are committed to growing our achievements,” she said.

And that success is borne out by the statistics.

On average, 629 students enrol on undergraduate programmes through the Access Centre each year. Since 2018/19, on average almost 500 students from DEIS schools have enrolled in University of Galway each year.

And almost 100 students a year have enrolled at University of Galway from Further Education and Training since 2018/19.

In 2022, more than 150 students were supported in education at the University through the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR), which focuses on students from socio-economically disadvantaged groups, and another 281 were supported through the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE), which focuses on students with a disability.

Since 2015/16 to 2022/23, there has been a 132% increase in students registering for the Disability Support Service at the University.

The service is available to UG 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.

Applications are now open for individuals to apply to a range of programmes, including programmes for school leavers and full/part-time courses for mature students.

Students can opt to study on the University campus or in the Tuam area and An Cheathrú Rua area, depending on where they are located.

Pictured: Republic of Ireland and Galway United soccer star Rola Ulasola, current student on University of Galway’s Access Programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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