Access & Disability Office
Mary Immaculate College is committed to widening participation and achieving equity of access to higher education for students from under-represented groups in third level, including socio-economically disadvantaged students, students with a disability, students from minority backgrounds and mature students.
Overview of Access Services:
- Pre-Entry: Advice and Information for prospective students on Access issues.
- Daily Drop-in Support: Personal support for students facilitated by an open door policy. Information, advice and advocacy assistance provided where appropriate. Provision of College-related practical supports.
- Needs Assessments for Learners with disabilities, specific learning difficulties and long term medical conditions to determine the supports and assistance required to enable student(s) reach their academic potential.
- Financial assistance: Information on the ESF Student Assistance Fund and other sources of financial assistance available to eligible students to help with costs of attending college.
The Access & Disability Office is located in Room G01, situated on the ground floor of the Foundation Building, and is open from 9.30am-12.30pm and 2-4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
Paula Hourigan, Senior Academic Administrator, is the first point of contact on the Thurles campus, and can be reached on +353 504 20535 or Paula.Hourigan@mic.ul.ie. Her office is P122 on the first floor of the main building.
MIC Access Policy
1.1 Mary Immaculate College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity in education and to ensuring that students have as complete and equitable access to all facets of College life as can reasonably be provided.
In keeping with the College Mission Statement, which 'strives to promote equity in society and to provide an environment where all have freedom a opportunity to achieve their full potential,' the College endeavours to achieve equity of access to higher education for students from under-represented groups in third level, including socio-economically disadvantaged students, students with a disability and mature students.
These initiatives are consistent with the aims of the Higher Education Authority’s National Office for the Equity of Access to Higher Education. The College is committed to increasing its targets for increased participation for all groups and improving access activities is central to the College’s overall institutional strategy and policy
1.2 This policy derives from a philosophy of inclusion, which is dedicated to providing necessary support services wherever possible.
1.3 Responsibility for the implementation of the College’s access policy is communal and will be facilitated by the College’s Access/Disability Officer who will liaise with the appropriate departments, staff and students of the College. It is within the remit of the Access/Disability Officer to provide and arrange for the provision of assistance and guidance to access services.
1.4 In providing for students from under-represented groups in third level, the College will have particular regard for the human dignity, freedom and independence of each individual and the importance of confidentiality.
1.5 The College will seek to publicise its services in targeted disadvantaged areas and increase its involvement in community-based initiatives in such areas. The College’s Prospectuses and course brochures shall contain information on all access routes to the College.
Access Routes to Third Level
The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) are two undergraduate entrance schemes running at Mary Immaculate College.
Please see the MIC Admissions Office for more alternative admission routes.
Disability Access Route to Education (DARE)
The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education.
DARE offers reduced points places to school leavers who as a result of having a disability have experienced additional educational challenges in second level education.
See below for Frequently Asked Questions about DARE.
DARE is for school leavers under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2020, who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education, but who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course due to the impact of a disability on their second level education. Applicants to DARE can present with an Irish Leaving Certificate, A-Levels and other EU qualifications.
MIC reserves reduced points’ places for eligible DARE applicants on all undergraduate courses. This table provides detail of the minimum number of DARE and HEAR reduced points places available on each course. Note that these numbers are for guideline purposes only and may vary from year to year.
To be considered for a reduced point DARE place you must:
- Be eligible for DARE
- Meet minimum entry requirements. As the minimum entry and subject requirements may be different for each course, applicants should check the prospectus for the requirements of each preference listed on your CAO form
- Achieve a minimum of 300 points
- Eligible DARE applicants must come within a differential of 40 CAO points below the standard CAO for the relevant year
- Eligible DARE applicants must meet specific programme requirements. With the exception of B Ed courses, prospective students who have been granted a Language waiver on disability grounds from the Department of Education & Skills can substitute the language requirement (Gaeilge or a modern language) with another subject in order to meet the minimum entry requirements
Once these requirements have been met, MIC normally allocates the reduced point’s places to eligible applicants who come nearest to the full points for their preferred course. Please note that certain categories of DARE students will be prioritised. If the quota of reduced places is not filled on one scheme, the unfilled quota will be made available to the other scheme.
The reduction in points for DARE and/or HEAR places in Mary Immaculate College can vary significantly every year. The amount of points a particular course is reduced by is dependent on a number of factors, which are:
- The overall number of places on the programme
- The number of reduced points DARE and/or HEAR places on the programme
- The number of DARE and/or HEAR eligible applicants competing for these reduced points places
- Being eligible for DARE and/or HEAR does not guarantee you a reduced points place
Research has identified that students with physical and sensory disabilities are particularly under-represented in higher education relative to all students with disabilities in Ireland. In order to increase the numbers of DARE students with physical and sensory disabilities being admitted to higher education, the DARE colleges have agreed to prioritise these two groups when allocating reduced points places.
Eligible applicants with physical and sensory disabilities can only be prioritised where they have met all the admissions criteria for consideration.
Research has identified that students with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds face considerable challenges in terms of their chances of progressing to higher education in Ireland. In order to increase the number of students facing the ‘double disadvantage’ of poverty and disability, DARE and HEAR colleges have agreed to prioritise applicants eligible for both DARE and HEAR when allocating reduced points places. Applicants eligible for both schemes can only be prioritised where they have met all the admissions criteria for consideration.
Mary Immaculate College may reserve up to 5% of its places on each undergraduate programme for eligible HEAR and DARE applicants. MIC will endeavour to exceed the minima.
Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)
The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a third level alternative admissions scheme which offers places on reduced points and extra college supports to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are resident in the Republic of Ireland.
HEAR has been set up by a number of colleges and universities as evidence shows that socio-economic disadvantage can have a negative effect on how well a student does at school and whether they go to college.
See below for Frequently Asked Questions about HEAR.
HEAR is for school leavers under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2020 who are resident in the Republic of Ireland. HEAR applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators to be considered for a reduced points place and extra college support.
MIC reserves reduced points’ places for eligible HEAR applicants on all undergraduate courses. This table provides detail of the minimum number of MIC HEAR reduced points places available on each course. Note that these numbers are for guideline purposes only and may vary from year to year.
To be considered for a reduced point HEAR place you must:
- Be eligible for HEAR
- Meet minimum entry requirements. As the minimum entry and subject requirements may be different for each programme, applicants should check the prospectus for the requirements of each preference listed on your CAO form
- Eligible HEAR applicants must come within a differential of 40 CAO points below the standard CAO for the relevant year
- Achieve a minimum of 300 points
- Eligible HEAR applicants must meet specific course requirements
Once these requirements have been met, MIC normally allocates the reduced point’s places to eligible applicants who come nearest to the full points for their preferred course after the prioritisation of applicants eligible for both HEAR and DARE. If the quota of reduced places is not filled on one scheme, the unfilled quota will be made available to the other scheme.
The reduction in points for HEAR and/or DARE places in Mary Immaculate College can vary significantly every year. The amount of points a particular course is reduced by is dependent on a number of factors, which are:
- The overall number of places on the programme
- The number of reduced points HEAR and/or DARE places on the programme
- The number of HEAR and/or DARE eligible applicants competing for these reduced points places
- Being eligible for HEAR and/or DARE does not guarantee you a reduced points place
Research has identified that students with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds face considerable challenges in terms of their chances of progressing to higher education in Ireland. In order to increase the number of students facing the ‘double disadvantage’ of poverty and disability, HEAR and DARE colleges have agreed to prioritise applicants eligible for both HEAR and DARE when allocating reduced points places. Applicants eligible for both schemes can only be prioritised where they have met all the admissions criteria for consideration.
Mary Immaculate College may reserve up to 5% of its places on each undergraduate programme for eligible HEAR and DARE applicants. MIC will endeavor to exceed the minima.
Students who receive a HEAR offer must attend an orientation programme on campus.
Students with a disability, specific learning difficulties and significant ongoing conditions can register for a range of post-entry supports, including:
- Academic Learning support
- Assistive Technology
- Exam Accommodations
- Classroom Accommodations
Registration with the College Disability Support Service is a separate process to registering as a student. All students with a disability, specific learning difficulty, and significant ongoing medical conditions should register with the College Disability Service. You can register with the Disability Service at any stage during your academic programme.
Please complete and return the registration form to Access Office G01 together with your supporting documentation (there is no need to resubmit documentation if you are a DARE applicant as we can access your documentation from the CAO).
In order to register, documentary evidence of a disability is required. This can either be an Evidence of Disability Form or a report from a relevant Health Professional/Consultant with the same level of detail.
All forms are available on the MIC Student Portal.
In order to complete the registration, Students must attend a Needs Assessment with the Access Officer in order to determine their needs and agree on a support plan.
Please email Access@mic.ul.ie or call +353 61 204927/204510 to schedule an appointment.
Fund for Students with Disabilities
The Fund for Students with Disabilities allocates funding to further and higher education colleges for the provision of services and supports to students with disabilities. The fund aims to ensure that students can participate fully in their academic programmes and are not disadvantaged by reason of a disability.
The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) is part supported by the Irish Government and the European social Fund (ESF) as part of the ESF Programme for employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.
Application for the first time can be made during any year of study on an approved course at further or higher education level.
Applications to the fund are made on behalf of an eligible student by their college following an assessment of need. Applications cannot be made directly to the Fund by students.The funding is allocated to the college, not the student. The college has full discretion in decision on the allocation of the Fund at local level, and remains responsible for the management of the funding throughout the duration of each year. The college organises the supports in consultation with the applicants.
Supports funded falls into three main categories:
- Assistive Technology
- Personal and Academic Support
Further information on the Fund for Students with a Disability can be found at the Higher Education Authority website here.
If you wish to make an enquiry in relation to this fund, please contact Access@mic.ul.ie.
Students with disabilities may avail of alternative exam arrangements if this support is deemed necessary as part of the student's needs assessment.
Alternative arrangements are designed to ensure that equitable examination conditions are provided, to enable students to demonstrate their knowledge and competence notwithstanding their disability.
The onus lies on the individual student to ensure that the College is informed of the nature of his or her disability, and to apply for Examination Accommodations. All applications for alternative accommodations must be supported by acceptable medical documentation.
If a student requires alternative assessment or examination arrangements due to a temporary disability/medical condition, he or she can request temporary alternative exam arrangements. All requests have to be supported by the relevant corroborative evidence. Ideally, applications should be submitted at least two weeks in advance of exams.
For further information and application, please contact the Access & Disability Office in Room G01; Access@mic.ul.ie or on +353 61 204927/204510.
Applying for a Language Waiver - BA programmes
Applicants should note that the language waiver is only applicable where a student has applied for, or intends to pursue a course that does not require study of Gaeilge/foreign language, and is not a subject specific requirement for any course. Students granted a language waiver are still required to meet the six-subject matriculation requirement.
Deadline for submission of Language Exemption application: 1 July.
Students attending a State Second Level School
Applicants should complete the application form here and return completed application with a certified copy of the Certificate of Exemption from Irish (Revision of Rule 46 Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools in relation to Irish Circular Letter M10/94 Department of Education). This certificate should be available from your school.
Students attending a Non-State Private Second Level School
Applicants who do not have a Department of Education (DES) Certificate of Exemption due to attendance at a Non-State/Private Second Level School are required to complete Application Form for Language Exemption (click here) and return completed application with the following documents:
- A Language Exemption Declaration signed by the school (click here)
- A copy of relevant disability evidence as per application
Please note that we cannot assess incomplete applications. It is our practice to destroy documents at the end of the current year for unsuccessful applicants.
The National University of Ireland (NUI) Language Waiver is completely separate. Even if you have an NUI exemption, you still need to apply to Mary Immaculate College for a Language Exemption.
For further information on applying for a language exemption on disability grounds: please contact the Access & Disability Office on Access@mic.ul.ie or on +353 61 204927/204510.
During the year, the Access & Disability Office may require the services of Education Support Workers to support students registered with the disability service. The office maintains a register of ESWs who may be required to work throughout the academic year. It assesses students’ needs and matches ESWs according to those needs.
An ESW provides individual assistance to students with disabilities to support the student’s learning and to help eliminate the disadvantage caused by a student’s disability. Examples of this work include: note-takers, academic tutors, library assistants, academic assistants, essay support, and exam scribes.
The characteristics and experience we are looking for in ESWs include:
- Excellent communication skills
- Highly organised and reliable
- Respect for privacy and ability to manage confidential information
Find more information on ESW specifications here.
How to register as an ESW
You do not necessarily have to be fully trained in a particular area of support in order to apply for a position as an Educational Support Worker. The Access & Disability Office staff will provide you with detailed instructions and will also provide ongoing support and advice
If you wish to make an application for a place on the ESW panel, you must complete and return an ESW Application Form to Access@mic.ul.ie or post/hand deliver to the Access Office in Room G01. Applicants will be invited to attend for interview. Successful applicants will be required to complete Garda vetting and attend an induction programme which will provide guidance on roles and responsibilities.
For more information, click here.
Student Assistance Fund (SAF)
The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) is funded by the Irish Government and part-funded by the European Social Fund. The Student Assistance Fund provides financial support to students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, lone parents or members of the other access targets groups and to provide emergency financial assistance for other students.
The SAF is available to assist students who are unable to meet costs associated with day-to-day participation in higher education, such as rent, college materials, childcare etc.
The list is not exhaustive but it is important that the nature of the expenditure for which assistance is being provided is clearly identified. Assistance is not available to help with college tuition fees, registration fees or student loans
Students on full or part-time programmes leading to a higher education award at Level 6 to 10 of the national framework of qualifications are eligible to apply for SAF. PhD students are funded for Years 1-4 only. In relation to part-time students, the student must be from one of the target groups as specified in the HEA National Access Plan.
Applications are assessed by an SAF Committee 2-3 weeks after the closing date and outcomes emailed to students. The SAF awards are paid into student bank accounts. An appeals procedure is available so that a student can have their application reconsidered if they are not not satisfied with the outcome.
International/non-EU fee paying students are not eligible for funding. International/non-EU fee-paying students experiencing financial difficulties should contact the Access office about applying for financial support from other sources of funding.
For more information on the SAF, click here.
How to Apply
Further Information on applying for the fund is on the MIC Student Portal.
Applications for the 1916 Bursary Fund for the 2020/2021 academic year open on Monday, 25 May.
The 1916 Bursary Fund, funded by the Department of Education and Skills, commemorates the centenary of 1916 as part of an overall series of measures to encourage participation and success by students from sections of society that are significantly under-represented in higher education. The 1916 Bursary Fund will provide financial support to students identified by higher education institutions as being the most socio-economically disadvantaged from specified target groups, and it will complement existing student supports and access initiatives.
- Access Routes to Third Level
- Useful Information
- Financial Assistance