Sunday, 20 August, 2017

What Next : What financial supports are available?

Supports for students with disabilities


If you are a student with disabilities, looking for advice and support for returning to education contact AHEAD. They promote full access and participation in third level education for learners with disabilities also helping them gain employment after graduating. They provide an information service to learners and have developed information sheets and other key resources for learners. They also have an excellent website  which is a one-stop shop for information in terms of legislation, funding, learning supports, training, projects, work placements and assistive technology or you can call them on (0)1 7164396.

Fund for Students with Disabilities

This fund allocates funding to further and higher education colleges for the provision of services and supports to full-time students with disabilities. Eligible students can receive assistance from the Fund from PLC level right up to doctoral level. You do not have to be in the first year of a course to be eligible to apply for the Fund. Application for the first time can be made during any year of study on an approved course at further or higher education level.  It allows colleges to provide specialised equipment and support the specific needs of a learner with a disability.  Applications to the Fund are made on behalf of an eligible student by their college following an assessment of need. Contact the Disability or Access offices in your institution for further information. Find out more about the Fund for Students with Disabilities: visit and then click fund students with disabilities.

CRC Ciaran Barry Graduate Scholarship

The scholarship is reserved for a student undertaking a postgraduate degree and is open to any academic discipline. The grant covers one year of study for students with disability. For further information, application form and rules visit

The NUI Award Scheme for students with disabilities 

Awards with a total value of €11,000 are available to new entrant undergraduate students registered for the first year of a primary degree programme of studies, in one of the constituent universities or recognised colleges of the NUI, and who have serious physical disabilities.

More details can also be obtained from the Disability Office in each of the NUI colleges (NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth and University College Cork) or visit

DCU Scholarship 

DCU run a scholarship scheme which supports disabled students who wish to combine their academic course with their sporting interests. There is a limited number available; those eligible must have secured a place at DCU through CAO as a Leaving Cert student or as a mature applicant. The award aims to cover training, travel and coaching expenses and involves free access to the DCU sports complex. For more information

Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities

Google has partnered with EmployAbility, a nonprofit organization who assist students with disabilities while they pursue education and careers. Scholarship recipients of the Google Scholarship for Students with Disabilities will each receive a €7,000 scholarship for the 2014-2015 academic year. Scholarships will be awarded based on the strength of the applicant's academic background, leadership skills and demonstrated passion for Computer Science. For more information please: email:

Can an adult learner with a disability qualify for exemptions when applying to third level through the CAO?

Through the CAO it is possible to gain entry via the Supplementary Admissions Route. However it is important to note that entry criteria can vary from one college to another. Some colleges accept learners with disabilities who have achieved 15% below the set points for the course the year an application is being made. While the others may have another system in place and may assess each application on an individual basis. Unless a learner has an approved language exemption learners must obtain the minimum core subject entry requirements for their chosen course.

What supports can a learner with a disability avail of once they have secured a place in third level?

Firstly it is important to note that many HEIs especially within the university sector now have designated Disability Officers in place who can provide information on a range of supports such as funding, accommodation, assistive technology and who generally implements the institutions disability policy. However in smaller institutions this work is often done by the Access Officers.

One of the most important things a learner with a disability can do in making their application is tick the box on the CAO form marked do you have a disability. This information will be given to the institution and they will be aware that they will need support upon entry. However all information given to the institution will be treated as confidential. It is also important to make arrangements in terms of examination facilities, and seek assistance and the relevant supports from the Disability Office/ Access Office at the beginning of your academic year. It may also be useful to make yourself known to your lecturers as they too may need to be aware of your circumstances.

With regards to mental health USI have also launched an innovative mental health awareness pack which has been disseminated to all HEIs as part of their Mental Health Awareness Campaign. This pack provides information to learners through postcards, stickers and bookmarks. Learners can obtain a pack from their Access Office.

Higher Education Authority Initiative - DARE

In 2009, The Irish Universities Association, Dublin Institute of Technology and partners, on a national basis, launched an access route for students who wish to progress to higher education. The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is for students with a disability. Visit for more information.


The Students Union of Ireland (USI), Equality Officer has the responsibility of initiating campaigns for the defence and promotion of student's right in the areas of equality. The officer is responsible for running Equality Training Events and is the chairperson of Equality Working. Further information is available from the Equality Officer, USI or refer to the contacts section.

WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) Programme

The WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) Programme offers graduates with disabilities the chance to take up mentored work placements for up to six months in a variety of companies around Ireland. The placements offer graduates the chance to gain valuable experience and to pick up solid skills. All participants are paid the going rate for the work they do.

All WAM placements have a company mentor who helps graduates to settle into the workplace. This company mentor is the link between the WAM programme and the company. WAM is funded by the Department of Social Protection (2012/2013) and has placed over 150 graduates with disabilities within its network of employers since 2006.

For more information on the WAM Programme and current work placement opportunities please contact Linda Kelly, Telephone: 01 278 9325, E-mail:

Useful Links

Last Updated: 05/03/2014 ^ back to top