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 partnerships 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 1,100 Access Scholars, representing every county in Ireland, are studying at undergraduate and postgraduate levels across the University.
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Using evidence-based practice, we work with our DCU colleagues, schools, communities and corporate groups to champion higher educational opportunities, to provide equal access to and support progression through and beyond DCU for groups affected by economic and social adversity.
- To increase the number of students being targeted through our outreach programmes, to engage their parents, schools, and communities, and instill the belief that third-level education is a viable and achievable option for them.
- Through the delivery of bespoke supports ensure successful transition, retention, progression, and outcomes for Access students by harnessing the support of the DCU community and its philanthropic partners.
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 and communities and Access eligible individuals in North Dublin through the U & University, DCU TY, 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 Entry Route (ADER), Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and Access DCU Entry Route-Accelerator Scheme. Click here for more information.
3. Support to Access Scholars in DCU
Provide a host of financial, academic, professional & personal development supports to over 1,100 Access Scholars studying at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in DCU. Click here for more information.
4. Conduct / Commission Research
Conduct and commission research which helps inform our work, creates best practices and impacts upon the wider national and international Access Agenda. Click here for more information.
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.
- DCU has the oldest and largest Higher Education Access Programme in Ireland. Source: HEA.
- The Programme is built on over 30 Years of experience informed by practitioner-led research.
- In 2023, 97% of Access students were awarded a higher honours degree, with 75% achieving a first-class or second-class - grade 1 honours degree.
- The DCU Access programme has the highest first-year retention rate in Ireland at over 96%. Source: HEA
- There are 1,048 undergraduate Access students currently studying in DCU, with 272 students entering their first year in 2023.
- In 2022, one in five access students accepting a reduced point level 8 offer in Ireland attends DCU.
- Over 8,000 students and adults in the North Dublin Region, partake in Access DCU initiatives yearly.
- Our award-winning Access to the Workplace programme places second-year access students on a paid summer internship.
DCU students and employers explain the importance of Access to the Workplace which provides work experience to Access students.