Staff Picks:

Higher & Further Education News & Views

Disability Headlines

General Education Stories

Mental Health in the Media


Staff Picks:

Inside third level

Teachers must come from all sections of society


Higher & Further Education News & Views

Minister snubs key education reform plan

Where science meets business

Farmers battle college grant plans

IT Sligo appointment to Higher Education Authority Board

Flying the Galway flag in the US

CIT strike off after last-minute talks

Pupils pit wits against language puzzles

News diary from 1916 in DCU media history collection

Shakespeare scholars to defend the Bard

Students look past recession towards hi-tech horizons

CAO points scramble strategy doesn’t add up

New science chief is all fired up


Disability Headlines

Harsh cuts loom for the intellectually disabled but there is a smart option

Where the horses are the healers

Blue is the colour for World Autism Awareness Day

Duffy and soccer stars to saddle up and raise funds for autism

‘Macbeth’ to come to life for audience with sensory impairments

Let us have new MS treatment, plead sufferers

‘Without him my life wouldn’t be the same’

Teenage autism crusader leaves powerful legacy

General Education Stories

Strong differences persist over school patronage

More than 200 teenagers take part in triathlon as part of school year

Four questioned over violent incident at Ennis school

Pick up skills in lifelong learning week

Surge in uptake of higher-level LC maths

Project Maths is not the answer to tough question

Music helps children learn maths


Mental Health in the Media

‘Walk In My Shoes’ mental health drive

Lynch to meet group to discuss anti-depressants

Stars step up to support mental health campaign

Can Goldie Hawn make Irish children happier?

Debate on antidepressants needed

Rugby star O’Driscoll urges men to open up


Employment Features

50 leading social innovators to participate at Change Nation event

WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) Programme Briefing

LINK Conference, Oct 4th 2012, Ghent: Call for Papers now open!


‘We can’t go back, not now!… Not now‘ (Tintin)

Firstly we are delighted to confirm that the LINK Conference 2012 will take place on October 4th 2012 in Ghent, Belgium.  The conference will address the topic of transition from higher education to work for students with disabilities and in particular will analyse the individual roles of students themselves, the higher education institutions and the employers.
Are you an academic, employer, policy maker or student with a disability and do you have a concern or some strong opinions about work and transition to work? We would like you to share your experiences. If you are interested in submitting a paper for presentation at the conference please download the full call for papers here and follow the instructions.

All proposals need to be submitted on a proposal submission form to by April 15th 2012. Booking for the event will commence later in the year and we will be in touch to notify interested parties.
Don’t forget to spread the word and get your colleagues to become a LINK member free of charge by visiting

The National Council for Special Education at The School of Education, Trinity College, Dublin is carrying out a Study of Access and Progression Experiences of Student with Special Educational Needs Moving From Compulsory Education to FE/HE.  They are looking for participants to this research. Below is some information about the project. If you are interested in participating, contact me and I will send out further information.

“Aims of the Study.

The NCSE has commissioned a study of the access and progression experiences of students with special educational needs moving from compulsory education to FE/HE, with a view to identifying practices and policies to ensure improved access and smooth progression to FE/HE.

The experiences of individual students are central to a better understanding of these issues.

Key research questions include:

  1. What are the access and progression pathways for students with special educational needs moving from compulsory education to FE/HE institutions?
  2. What are the roles of educational institutions, individuals and health services in the preparation of students with special educational needs for this progression?
  3. What resources and supports are available to students with special educational needs to accommodate them making this progression?
  4. What are the experiences of students with special educational needs in accessing and progressing to FE/HE?
  5. What are the views of educational and health personnel involved in supporting students in accessing and progressing to FE/HE?
  6. What major issues and barriers arise with regards to access, progression and transition?
  7. What best practices/strategies in relation to access, progression and transition exist?

As you can see, this is an important piece of research and one that has real potential to increase the numbers of students with special educational needs accessing and transferring to FE / HE.

To ensure that the research is the best that it can be, the research team has an international record of research and practice in the area.  The project is being managed by Dr Conor Mc Guckin and Dr Michael Shevlin from The School of Education in Trinity College, Dublin.

Also working with Conor and Michael are Professor Richard Rose, Sheena Bell, and Andy Smith from The Centre for Special Needs Education and Research at the University of Northampton, UK.  Dr Eileen Winter from the Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe and Dr Geraldine Scanlon from Dublin City University are also working on the project.

We would like to ask for your help in the research.

Whilst some of our focus will be in talking to secondary school students with special educational needs to gain an understanding of their experiences of trying to make the transition from school to FE / HE, we would like to gain similar understanding of the experiences of students who have successfully made the transition to FE / HE.

What do we plan to do?

We will be holding focus groups with groups of about 6 students.  These focus groups will explore questions related to your experiences of the transition from secondary school to your current / previous studies.

When do we plan to do it?

We plan to conduct these focus groups in the next few weeks.

How long will it take?

The focus groups will last approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.


We really value the input from people who help us with our research.  To ensure that everything we do is ethical, we have a set of ethical guidelines that govern the research.  You will receive a copy of this Code of Ethics.  You will also receive a Consent Form.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this.

If you would like to find out more about the project, or other similar projects that the team are currently working on, contact Dr Conor Mc Guckin at”

What to do now if you would like to take part in the research.

If you would like to take part in the focus groups, please let me know and I will let the researchers  know.  I will send out further information and also keep you informed of when and where the focus groups will take place.

At the end of January the HEA launched a piece of research on the cost of participation in higher education. It’s already been blogged about by the USI Equality Campaign. The survey is based on research carried out from 2003 to 2006 throughout Europe and qualitative data gathered by focus groups involving 6 students of each of the groups (mature students, disabled students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds) from both a university and an IT. This in itself is problematic in my opinion, but that’s a post for another day. If you read the research though, what comes up time and time again is this line

“Finally, in terms of students with a disability the numbers were small (less than 2 per cent) and did not allow analysis of the additional costs faced by this group.”

I don’t think this is good enough even if it was clearly outlined at the beginning of the research:

“One such limitation includes the low number of student respondents with a disability in the available survey data, which therefore greatly impedes any meaningful analysis of average income and expenditure for this particular sub-group”

At the end of the day this was a piece of research which was trying to identify what costs particular groups of students incurred in attending higher education. This information would inform whether or not these students may have needed extra grants to prevent cost being a barrier to higher education, but because it was deemed that insufficient data was available students with disabilities’ experiences was not analysed and therefore their costs may not be taken into account.

My boss had a few words to say on the subject, and has already done so to the HEA. This is her statement.

Response to the Cost of Participation Survey in higher education.

This report is very disappointing as it wasted a valuable opportunity to describe the costs of study in higher education for disabled students.

While the survey aimed to review the literature available, it did not consider the NDA Endecon Cost of Living survey of people with disability which cites international research as estimating the average cost at €40/50 per week for many and extremely higher costs for someone with severe disabilities.  In this Endecon report the cost of Disability is defined as:

“the amount it cost a disabled person to achieve the same standard of living as a non-disabled person”.

The report also set out to describe the income and expenditure of different groups of students including students with a disability but it did not in fact describe these costs.  This omission is significant because if we cannot describe what the costs are then how can we take account of the additional costs due to disability.

The Endecon report describes the areas of higher costs for people with disabilities in relation to:

  • Transport; taxis
  • Accommodation
  • Medicines
  • Equipment
  • Clothing
  • Leisure
  • Insurance
  • Heating

Additional costs are incurred by people with disability depending on their disability, levels of impairment, and personal circumstances.  These costs impact on students with disabilities who in addition incur other additional costs related to their engagement with education.  While many of the additional costs of disability in education are the responsibility of the institution and are covered by the Fund for students with disabilities, others such as the cost of social inclusion, as pointed out by one of the students in the survey who said that he could not go out at night as he had no PA.

Students were seen as the best source of information yet the report was unable to locate sufficient students with disabilities, yet there are over 4,000 students with disabilities in the sector.   It is unacceptable to have carried out this survey without getting an adequate response from this group of students as it is essential to inform future policy.