22 January 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has confirmed that Cork Institute of Technology and University College Cork have collectively been awarded €644,622 for initiatives aimed at supporting students with disabilities to access and engage with higher education.
Senator Lombard said, “My colleague, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, has allocated a total of €5.4 million in funding for a broad range of projects to support students with disabilities.
“These projects are aimed at improving access to higher education for people with a disability, to improving college campuses and to assist staff with training and development.
“University College Cork has been allocated €471,703 and Cork Institute of Technology has been allocated €172,919 for initiatives to support the overall strategic development of disability services in higher education institutions.
“The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) aims to support students with a range of conditions and disabilities including sensory and physical disabilities, specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, autism, mental health conditions and significant ongoing illness.
“The scope and reach of the FSD has changed significantly over the past twenty years. In 1999, it supported 300 students. By 2018/2019, the fund supported 13,000 students.
“We have been determined to support the Higher and Further Education through the challenges of Covid-19, and to ensure that educational opportunities remain and are made more accessible to everyone, particularly the most vulnerable in our society,” Senator Lombard concluded.
Announcing the funding, Minister Harris said, “College can be an overwhelming experience, and for people with disabilities it can be extremely daunting.
“These projects will make a transformational difference to people’s lives. For people with autism, there are autism-friendly rooms being established in nine colleges for when things get overwhelming. We are funding projects to make our colleges more accessible
“We will also fund tactile wayfinding maps, loop systems for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Education is for everyone and people with disabilities need to be supported by their third level institutions
“Importantly, we will use some of the funding for training staff and hiring new ones to help students with additional needs.”