The government of the Republic of Ireland has created an access fund worth €5.7 million (£5 million) to give 2,000 young people from under-represented groups a chance to attend higher education.
The money will be allocated to regional clusters of higher education institutions, which were invited to submit plans to the Higher Education Authority setting out how they intended to improve access in their region over the next three years.
Groups targeted through the fund include students from socio-economic groups with low participation rates; first-time mature students; students with disabilities; part-time/flexible learners; and Irish Travellers. Ministers have also specified that at least 10 per cent of the places must go to single parents.
In announcing the initiative at the end of last month, higher education minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor noted that it built on earlier programmes within the government’s Action Plan for Education, and that these together “have the potential to really help to break the cycle of disadvantage for many communities”.