What are Higher Education Institutions?

Higher Education Instituions include Universities, Institutes of Technologies and Colleges of Education in Ireland. Higher Certificate, Ordinary, Honour, Graduate and Master degrees and PhD can be studied in these institutions.

Student Supports/Services within Higher Education Institutions

There are a variety of support services available to mature students in Higher Education Institutions. This web page provides a brief outline of some of the supports available, but for more information, you should contact either the Mature Student Officer or Access Officer in the college you are interested in attending.

Mature Student Officer

The majority of Higher Education Institutions have Mature Student Officers to support mature students within the college or to provide assistance to adults considering returning to education in their respective college. If a college does not have a Mature Student Officer, the Access Officer should be able to answer any questions you might have, regarding the support services available.

Mature Student Officers can offer courses to assist students with the sometimes challenging transition to third level education. These courses introduce the necessary academic skills required for first year students and also provides practical advice e.g. familiarising students with the third level campus and meeting fellow mature students.

Workshops may also be provided on topics ranging from writing skills, the transition to third level, study skills, note taking, science/laboratory skills, learning styles, using the library, financial supports and an introduction to clubs and societies. Some colleges may also cover topics such as managing change, ‘understanding yourself as an adult learner’, adapting to student life and managing stress.

Access Officer

The role of the Access Officer is to facilitate greater access and participation in third level for students from marginalised groups who have traditionally been excluded from higher education. The Access Officer works with students who have a disability, adult learners and students who come from socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

Disability Supports

Many third level colleges have a dedicated disability support office. Alternatively, students should contact the Access Officer in the college. Educational supports can vary greatly depending on the college. Some supports which can be provided include; peer mentoring programmes, accessible accommodation, accessible transport, assistive technology, alternative media formats, tuition in specific subject areas, alternative examination arrangements, note taking, and assistance in using the college library. Other disability supports may include a needs assessment, learning support, sign language interpretation, speed text operators, academic skills development and spelling and grammar waiver.

The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) is an organisation which provides information to students/ graduates with disabilities, teachers, guidance counsellors and parents on disability issues in education.