About | Access

From humble beginnings…

DCU’s location is quite unique, servicing radically different neighbourhoods, incorporating some of Ireland’s most affluent communities and some of the country's most disadvantaged.

From its inception as a small technological university DCU has sought to actively engage and provide equal access to all groups within the wider community. 

In 1989 as a fledgling University, DCU’s Governing Body voted in favour of implementing a local initiative aimed at addressing the low numbers of students entering third-level from one of its closest neighbourhoods in North Dublin – Ballymun. Through successful partnership with a number of key community groups in the local area, the Ballymun Initiative for Third Level Education (BITE) was founded. In 1990, six students entered DCU through the BITE initiative. Today, over 1,200 Access Scholars, representing every county in Ireland, are studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level across the University.

If you have any questions please contact us at access@dcu.ie.


DCU Access Impact Report 2018/2019

The DCU Access Impact Report for the academic year 2018/2019 is available for download.


DCU is Home to Ireland’s Largest Higher Education Access Programme.

Our Mission

In partnership with the DCU community, we engage with local schools and communities to raise awareness of higher education opportunities.

Using evidence based best practice, we provide equal access to and support progression through DCU.

How we do it

The work of the DCU Access Service can be broadly divided into four key areas. These are:

1.     DCU Access Outreach Programme

Provides support to DEIS Schools, Communities and Access eligible individuals in North Dublin through the U & University, UniTY, and UFirst programmes. Click here for more information.

2.     Entry Routes for Leaving Cert Students

Facilitates three separate Entry Routes through which Leaving Certificate students can apply to study at DCU on an Access Scholarship. These are: Access DCU, HEAR and DCU Accelerator. Click here for more information.

3.     Support to Access Scholars in DCU

Provide a host of financial, academic, professional & personal development supports to over 1,000 Access Scholars studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level in DCU. Click here for more information.

4.     Conduct / Commission Research

Conduct and commission research which helps inform our work, creates best practice and impacts upon the wider national and international Access Agenda. Click here for more information.


Who we Target

All students under the age of 23 who have completed a Leaving Certificate and are from one of the following target groups:

  • Students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds living in Ireland
  • 1st generation students with no history of 3rd level education in the family
  • Students residing in North Dublin in communities with lowest progression to third level education
  • Students experiencing double disadvantage (disability and socio-economic disadvantage)
  • Working class boys
  • Young people in the care of the State
  • Young carers
  • Members of the Traveller community.
Key Facts
  • DCU has the oldest and largest Higher Education Access Programme in Ireland.
  • The Programme is built on 29 Years of experience informed by practitioner led research.
  • 93% of Access students who enter DCU complete third level education.
  • Over the past 10 years, 92% of Access graduates achieved a 1st or 2nd class honours degree. From 2011 to 2019 this figure has increased to 97-98%.
  • The employment rates for DCU Access graduates is 96% with 85% of Access graduates employed in an area directly related to their degree.
  • There are 1,158 Access students currently studying in DCU with 285 students entering first year in 2019.
  • 10,000 primary and secondary school students in the North Dublin Region, partake in Access DCU initiatives yearly.
  • Our Access to the Workplace programme saw 50 access students placed with 38 employers for a summer internship. 

 DCU students and employers explain the importance of Access to the Workplace which provides work experience to Access students.