New college campaign launched to increase student diversity
College Connect, a partnership between four Higher Education Institutions, is launching a new campaign based on their mission to increase student diversity.
AIT, DkIt, DCU and MU are working together with community organisations and groups to reach the most underrepresented students and connect them to higher education courses.
The “It Can Be You” campaign encourages people to take that first step towards higher education by directing them to information and resources that will help them begin their journey. The campaign will also promote stories of students who overcame difficult circumstances to enter higher education and now want to inspire others to do the same.
“It Can Be You” is expected to increase the number of students from a range of communities, including Irish Travellers, lone parents and students from one-parent families, young people who have been in care of the state, people with disabilities, protection applicants (such as refugees or asylum seekers), people with previous convictions, people from lower socio-economic groups, first-time mature students and further education award holders.
“Education changes lives,” said Anthony Burrowes, Community Connector for College Connect. “There are many different factors involved for people to be able to make that first step towards higher education, and in developing student diversity as a whole. College Connect is the bridge that recognises these needs, developing community partnerships that are rooted in the beliefs of transformational education.”
“You might be facing challenges accessing the right information, but we’ll show you the resources available to help empower you. No matter what your circumstances are, get in touch with us today at collegeconnect.ie to begin your journey.”
Cassie Hunt, a 22-year-old student, advocates for people to contact College Connect. “I can speak to the incredible impact that higher education has had on my life,” said Cassie. “I grew up in Darndale and both my parents struggled with addiction. This meant that my story seemed to be mapped out for me already, but I’ve now completed my undergraduate degree and I’m beginning a masters this year. It can feel impossible to make that first step, but College Connect will be by your side and will connect you to lots of additional supports when you get to college, especially through the Access office.”
As well as highlighting the many alternative routes available to higher education, College Connect is leading the way in Community Needs Analysis (CNA), a style of peer-led research designed to give a voice to groups that are often unheard while finding out what the community needs.
The partnership carried out an action research project in 2019 with the Pathways Education Centre for Prisoners and Former Prisoners to find out how to better support people with previous convictions progress to college, and more importantly, to see what needed to be changed. The findings from this CNA were communicated largely through visual art and spoken word.
“We believe educational opportunities are for all,” said Burrowes. “We will continue creating links that ensure that no matter what your circumstances are, you will have access to the information and resources to support you in your journey to and through higher education.”
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