National Access Office
National Access Office
The National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education (National Access Office) was established in the Higher Education Authority in 2003 to facilitate educational access and opportunity for groups who are under-represented in higher education.
The National Office has the following principal functions:
• Manage a range of funding programmes
• Develop and implement a national action plan to achieve equity of access to higher education
• Monitor and report on progress in implementing the plan and achieving set targets and outcomes
• Provide advice on national policy
• Promote the rationale for access to higher education in a way that wins widespread practical support from the education and political authorities and the public at large.
The under represented groups in higher education prioritised by the National Office are:
• Those who are socially, economically or culturally under-represented in higher education
• Mature students
• Students with a disability
Equity of Access to higher education
Achieving an equitable higher education system has been a policy priority for the Irish state for over a decade. Three government white papers on education (1995, 1999, 2000), as well as a range of other national policy documents, legislation and funding programmes (including the current and previous National Development Plans and European Structural Funding) have underpinned the commitment of the state to the objective of tackling social inclusion through education as well as the wider goal supporting lifelong learning for all.
In 2001 an Action Group on Access to Higher Education recommended the establishment of a dedicated national office to co-ordinate existing work and to develop and implement a national framework of measures to increase participation in higher education by disadvantaged groups. The National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education (National Office) was established in the Higher Education Authority in 2003 to facilitate educational access for groups who are under-represented in higher education - those who are disadvantaged socially, economically and culturally, mature students and students with a disability. The office works with all higher education institutions and is supported in its work by an advisory group representing students, parents, the education sector and social partners.