‘Disability’ is defined broadly under Irish law. The Disability Act (Government of Ireland, 2005) sets out the following definition: “disability”, in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.
This definition is broad and incorporates a wide range of conditions and illnesses including: physical and sensory disabilities, Specific Learning Difficulties, ADD/ADHD, Dyspraxia, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Significant on-going illnesses, Speech & Language Difficulties and mental health difficulties.
The duty to provide reasonable adjustments in relation to the provision of goods and services is a legal requirement introduced by the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015. Educational establishments are bound by the provisions of the Acts, and students with disabilities are legally entitled to reasonable adjustments where necessary.
All universities and ITs are required by law to have at least one person responsible for administering support to students with disabilities and the larger institutions have quite large teams located in a Disability or Access Office.
All students who have a disability and wish to apply for reasonable adjustments/accommodations have to register with the Disability or Access Service. Students have to provide evidence of disability through documents. This evidence usually takes the form of a report from a relevant medical professional. Criteria on what type of report students need to provide and how recent it needs to be varies by disability (e.g. Dyslexic students must provide an Educational Psychologists Report less than 3 years old on Feb 1st).
College will be provided with a needs assessment where reasonable adjustments are agreed and other supports recommended. College may use the documentation to make an application to the Fund for Students with Disabilities to provide students with the support they may need.
There is funding available at third level specifically for students with disabilities but it is only to fund educational supports and the college receives the funding and puts supports in place on the student’s behalf. So, if for example a student requires a piece of assistive software, the college will apply to the Fund for Students with Disabilities on the student’s behalf, then buy the software and deliver it to the student.
As part of its audit and monitoring visits to Irish HEI’s participating in Erasmus+, the HEA (Higher Education Authority) international section actively engages with Disability Officers based at each institution to communicate the opportunities available to students with disabilities to partake in Erasmus + and of the additional supports available to them.
The HEA gathers this data using the Equal Access Survey (EAS) of new entrants only. Other data is also available through the reporting associated with the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD).
The Student Grant Scheme is administered by the centralised student grant awarding authority Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. Information in relation to student grants is available from SUSI’s website, www.susi.ie
The Student Grant Scheme which is mainstream funding provides maintenance support to undergraduate students pursuing approved third-level courses in approved institutions in Ireland or in the other E.U. Member States. An approved period of study which is an integral part of a course (within or outside the EU) may also be funded. The Student Grant Scheme does not extend to postgraduate courses pursued outside of Ireland.
The student grant, formerly called the maintenance grant, is the main source of financial help available from the Irish State for students in full-time publicly funded courses and full-time higher education undergraduate courses. Support is available to eligible students in most colleges in Ireland as well as eligible Irish students in many colleges in Northern Ireland, the UK and other EU States.
For eligible students, the grant is there to help with the various costs of participating in further or higher education for example the college registration fees and subsistence.
Family and/or personal income is a key factor that will be assessed when you apply for a student grant but there are also some other conditions. Students on part-time courses, access or foundation courses (in higher education institutions) and short courses are not eligible to apply for a student grant.
Visit the dedicated webpage for more information on the Student Grant including eligibility guidelines and how to apply.
Students going on Erasmus from Irish HEI’s with disabilities are entitled to apply for additional funding (special needs costs) through the Erasmus+ programme. This assistance is aimed at students who have a disability or special needs that would otherwise impact significantly on their ability to participate in Erasmus, and the support that may be offered is intended to help with the additional costs that would be incurred, for instance, a personal assistant, adapted accommodation, special transport, special didactic equipment or assistive technology, etc. This funding does not apply to on-going medical expenses that would normally be incurred in Ireland.
International students (credit and degree mobility) can apply and benefit from the same public grants and support services from the Ministry of Education), as a local student would.
Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution that meets the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment, and means. All students who meet the eligibility criteria may be awarded grant assistance.