As many of you will have seen, as part of the government’s strategy of labour activation, college places are being made available for people to go back to college and upskill. Information on these places is here, here, here, here, here, here and here (links are to newspaper articles, Department of Education website, HEA website)

There’s one significant problem: no funding is being made available for supports for accommodations which some people with disabilities may require so that they can access these courses.

“The new part time study places for unemployed graduates outlined in today’s Irish Times has made absolutely no provision for unemployed graduates with a disability…Students with disabilities on full time courses can avail of a Fund for Students with Disabilities operated by the National Access Office within the HEA…However, as this fund is not open to disabled graduates applying to this part time scheme, then if they need supports to deal with their disability then they are stuck, they are excluded from taking part.

Why should a graduate with a disability be ineligible for funding for vital supports to do a course just because he/she is studying part time? this is discrimination and excludes graduates with disabilities from this scheme and the opportunities accruing.”

The full statement from AHEAD on this is available here. It was referenced in the Independent on Wednesday 5th August.

It is being left to the institutions to fulfill their obligations under the Equal Status Act, without any extra funding. So in essence, if you are an unemployed person who meets the requirements to access these ‘free’ courses, but you happen to have a disability which requires support, you will have to work with the institution to ensure that those supports are made available (and hope that the supports constitute a reasonable accomodation of nominal cost). Even though this is a government led labour activation measure, they are not going to do anything to help you, or the institution, to take up their intiative.