Dáil Éireann - Volume 595 - 14 December, 2004
Written Answers - Educational Disadvantage.
Mr. Crowe Mr. Crowe
345. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of students from officially designated disadvantaged areas who participated or took part in third level education in each of the past five years. [32996/04]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:National data on the participation of disadvantaged students in third level education  are currently collected on the basis of parent’s occupation or social background. This data has been gathered through periodic studies commissioned by the HEA. The most recent full national survey of social background was in 1998. At that time the figures indicated that while the participation of young persons in the population from the least well off socio-economic groups had improved from 3% in the first survey in 1980 to 22%, it was still considerably lower than the average participation rate of 46%.
More recent data provided by third level institutions, and on behalf of the HEA, indicate further progress is being made in increasing access from disadvantaged groups and areas. For example, a HEA survey of a sample of entrants to higher education in 2003 indicates participation by students from semi-skilled and unskilled manual worker family backgrounds has increased to 47% of young persons in those population groups compared to an average participation rate of 54%. The results of this sample survey will be published shortly by the HEA. These participation rates from the sample survey will be comprehensively interrogated by the HEA through a full national survey of all new entrants to higher education taking place in this academic year.
Figures provided by third level institutions on an entry scheme to six of the universities and the Dublin Institute of Technology from designated disadvantaged schools also indicate access programmes are having a positive impact, with the numbers of school leavers having more than doubled from 300 in 2001 to 700 in the current academic year. These figures do not include many other students from linked schools and communities entering all third level institutions through the CAO which will be reflected in the forthcoming HEA full national survey.
On 6 December the national office for equity of access to higher education of the HEA published, at my request, an action plan which will progress a number of important goals over the next three years towards ensuring the continued and increased participation of students from all underrepresented groups, including those from disadvantaged areas. A priority area for action identified by the plan is the development of a national framework of equity of access policies and initiatives towards linking all disadvantaged regions, schools and communities with at least one higher education institution, as well as the ongoing monitoring of progress in achieving equity of access to higher education.
Dáil Éireann 595 Written Answers Educational Disadvantage.