The group at the event in the Pavilion in UL
Pictured at the launch of the Mid-West Cluster PATH 3 Evaluation were Dr Carolann Bargary, Access Officer TUS, Deirdre O’Connor, Access Officer UL, Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice President Academic Affairs MIC, Professor Shane Kilcommins, Provost and Deputy President UL, Frances O’Connell Vice President Student Engagement TUS and Dr Geraldine Brosnan Director of Student Life MIC
Tuesday, November 15, 2022

There was a strong focus on access to education as University of Limerick hosted an event to celebrate a unique partnership with Mary Immaculate College and Technological University of the Shannon.

The UL Access Office recently hosted the launch of the Evaluation of the Mid-West Cluster’s Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) Strand 3 in the Pavilion.

The Mid-West Cluster is a unique partnership between UL, MIC and TUS and is funded by the Higher Education Authority.

The evaluation, which was carried out by Dr Majka Ryan, highlighted the positive impact that the Programme for Access to Higher Education, together with their respective Access Offices, is having on diversifying the student body entering the Cluster’s three HEIs.

It equally highlighted the importance of working in partnership with each other and wider community stakeholders in meeting the shared objective of widening access and participation in Higher Education among those, who for whatever reason, were previously precluded from it.

The report was co-launched by Professor Shane Kilcommins, UL Provost and Deputy President, together with Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice President Academic Affairs, MIC and Ms Frances O’Connell, Vice President Academic Affairs, TUS and was well attended by community and educational partners, parents, and students on the day.

Speaking at the event, Professor Kilcommins said he was particularly impressed by findings that showed how the widening participation activity undertaken by the Cluster was solidly based on an inter-institutional and multiagency regional partnership model with DEIS schools, Education and Training Boards, Advocacy Groups and Community and Youth Organisations.

“I was delighted to co-launch, together with my colleagues Professor Niamh Hourigan (MIC) and Frances O’Connell (TUS), the evaluation of Phase 1 of the Mid-West Cluster’s Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH), Strand 3.

“It is a unique partnership, and I was delighted to see so many students, parents, community, and education partners present on the day to celebrate this important milestone in the programme to date, and I would like to acknowledge and thank all those who participated in the evaluation and attended the launch on campus in the Pavilion.

“I commend and congratulate our staff in UL, MIC, and TUS on this achievement and look forward to seeing the continued impact of phase 2 PATH activities in contributing to diversifying our student body,” Professor Kilcommins added.

Providing an overview of the key findings to emerge from the evaluation, Professor Niamh Hourigan of MIC reminded those present of the transformative effect of education and its ability to lift entire families out of poverty. 

Also, speaking at the event was Frances O’Connell, TUS, who spoke of the need to integrate PATH activities as core part of the Widening Access and Participation infrastructure to ensure that we can build and sustain long-term relationships with those who are supporting underrepresented groups daily.

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