Introduction to College Connect
College Connect is a collaborative initiative from the Midlands, East, and North Dublin (MEND) higher education cluster, which comprises Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT), Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), Dublin City University (DCU), and Maynooth University (MU). It is a three-year project, Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) 3, funded by the HEA, which aims to admit 400 additional students from specific target groups (e.g. Irish Travellers, one-parent families, in/were in the care of the state, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities/programme refugees, mature students etc.), who are under-represented in higher education. College Connect marks a departure from the traditional ‘singular’ approach to widening participation toward a collaborative, regional approach, which prioritises people within the MEND region experiencing multiple barriers to accessing higher education.
College Connect uses community needs analysis as a basis to co-design imaginative and creative interventions with our target groups and stakeholders, which include community organisations, local authorities, and industry. The interventions will reinforce and support: aspirations towards higher education; educational attainment; and college awareness. Supports within the College Connect project will also assist participants in developing skills critical to higher education participation and employability. Drawing on existing national (e.g. the Census, Pobal HP Deprivation Index) and institutional (student profiles) datasets, the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO), will develop a detailed spatial analysis of the MEND region. AIRO, in collaboration with the project team, will identify untapped higher education ‘cold spots’, track barriers to higher education at local levels, evaluate the impact of the project, and monitor higher education progression and employment outcomes over time.
Project Vision and Mission
Our vision is a student population that reflects and respects the diversity of the community in our region.
Our mission is to change who goes to college by working together as education providers and communities. This new partnership will empower future students to make informed choices and fulfil their potential.
For more details see the College Connect website.