News and Views

Students with intellectual disabilities to benefit as UCC awarded funding

23 Sep 2021
Grainne McGrath, Mary O’Brien, Annemarie Collins, Sinead Leahy, who were among the first graduates to receive Certificates in Contemporary Living in 2012.

Students with intellectual disabilities are set to benefit from major new funding secured by UCC. The €1m award from the Higher Education Authority recognises the impact of the university’s innovative work in the field of inclusive education, and its efforts to open higher education to students with intellectual disabilities.

UCC’s achievements in challenging deficit-focused perceptions of people with intellectual disabilities were profiled in an Impact Case Study reviewed by a panel of international experts. The Certificate in Contemporary Living was established as a pilot project supported by the Brothers of Charity, Cope Foundation and Enable Ireland. It was designed to meet the needs for non-segregated, inclusive post-secondary education for people with intellectual disabilities and was recognised as a model of good practice.

The two-year, part-time programme based in the School of Applied Social Studies and part of the programme offering of the Centre for Adult and Continuing Education at UCC, graduated over 100 students between 2009 and 2020.

The awards were determined on the basis of an evaluation of 21 Impact Case Studies submitted by higher education institutions to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in March 2021. Five institutions were selected for funding.

Minister Simon Harris said: “I would like to congratulate the successful institutions on submitting high quality case studies that provide us with a snapshot of some of the exciting and innovative initiatives ongoing in higher education”.

Welcoming the award President John O’Halloran reiterated UCC’s commitment to serve the community “through the provision of educational opportunities for students from a diversity of backgrounds”.

Professor Máire Leane who directed the Certificate in Contemporary Living programme, said that the funding would “scaffold the development of new initiatives to provide high value education and employment pathways for people with intellectual disabilities that recognise their unique capacities”.

The university’s strategy to increase inclusive education was reiterated by Interim Registrar, Professor Stephen Byrne who commented “this new funding will complement a broader suite of initiatives in UCC around the area of digital inclusion. Our aim is to make UCC the premiere inclusive University in the country”.

The successful case studies have been published on the HEA’s website.

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