Waterford Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has warmly welcomed the introduction of a transformational higher education course for students with intellectual disabilities atSouth East Technological University (SETU). The news was announced by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D this morning.
This transformational policy will ensure college courses designed specifically for learners with an intellectual disability will be rolled out for the academic year 2024/25.
Speaking on the announcement Senator Cummins stated: “It’svery important that education is accessible for everyone and universities are no exception to this, campuses have to reflect the life of the entire community in which they sit. As a former teacher I understand the different ways in which people learnand this government recognises that. This announcement highlights a clear Fine Gael value, that is ‘equality of opportunity for all’!”
Senator Cummins continued: “We are empowering students with the confidence to pursue higher education studies. These courses have been specifically designed with the voice of the learner at the centre They will start later this year and will provide for 150 students a year."
In SETU the ‘Skill Up: BU programme’ is envisaged to be delivered over two academic years. Year 1 is structured to provide a wide breadth of modules and following completion of year 1, year 2 will provide optional streams.
“Year one of the programme will include modules pertaining to Communication Skills, Physical Health, Health Promotion, Money Management Skills & Assistive Technology and Social Media.
“Year two of the programme students will have the opportunity to take two of the following three streams:
• Stream 1: Art and Literacy, Communication and Music
• Stream 2: Physical Health, Health Promotion, Computers - Internet Safety, Communication
• Stream 3: Money Managing, Culinary and Communication
Nationally the programmes are being rolled out across 10 different higher education institutions. Under the initiative, courses will be between one and two years in length. The student will apply directly to the college involved and can avail of specific pastoral and financial supports.
In addition, Minister Harris is announcing €1.8 million to roll out sensory maps of college campuses to support autistic learners and anti-racism measures particularly to challenge racism for members of the Traveller and Roma communities.
Senator Cummins concluded: "For far too long, many students with intellectual disabilities have felt locked out of higher education. Today’s announcement by Minister Harris is a welcome step towards tackling inequalities in education, striving to make it more accessible to everyone in our community.”