Ireland lags behind some European neighbours in third level education rates among disabled people, children’s minister Brian Lenihan admitted today.
He told an event at Dublin City University, organised to promote options open to disabled students, that numbers going on to further education would increase in coming years.
“As statistics on participation rates in third level education indicate, traditionally, very small numbers of people with a disability attended third level colleges in this country,” he said.
“In 1994, students with a disability constituted less than 1% of the student population. In 2006, this percentage has increased to approximately 3%.
“While this percentage is still short of that attained in some other European countries, the increase has been steady and is expected to improve further in the years ahead.”
While laws had been introduced in recent years to reinforce disability rights, the minister accepted support structures were also crucially important.
“Access to guidance in second level education is hugely important in assisting young people to develop self-management skills so that they can make informed choices about third level and further education options,” he said.
“Guidance programmes in schools should address the particular needs of students with a disability and play an important role in ensuring that they gain access to all available supports when they progress to third level education.”
The Minister for Education and Science had created an additional 180 guidance posts since 2001 to meet these aims, he said.