Pavee Point welcomes the new National Access Plan for Equity of Access, Participation and Success in Higher Education, 2022 – 2028, launched today, and believes it’s a critical response to supporting progression and retention rates of Travellers, Roma and other priority groups in higher education.

Since its establishment Pavee Point has been advocating for Traveller and Roma rights in education and called for special measures as well as the inclusion of Travellers and Roma in mainstream education measures.

Megan Berry speaking at the launch of National Access Plan at TU Grangegorman.

The National Access Plan launched today, with its targets and budget lines in relation to Travellers and Roma, is an example of such a special measure.

“The importance of targeted measures, as in the previous National Access Plan and recent funding to create the conditions of making inclusion possible, are critical in aiming to increase Traveller and Roma participation in higher education,” said Megan Berry, Community Development Worker with Pavee Point speaking at today’s launch.  

 “Maynooth Access Programme played a significant role in supporting me on my journey and ensuring that any issues along the way didn’t affect my education.  Initiatives, like the laptop loan scheme and the Student Assistance Fund saw me through the final years,” added Ms. Berry. 

Targets Needed at all Education Levels

Attending the launch Pavee Point Chairperson Anastasia Crickley said: “While welcoming the recent announcement of additional funding supports for Traveller Higher Education students,  Pavee Point is clear that reinforced targets will be needed to achieve parity participation for Travellers in Higher Education. 

Megan Berry, Pavee Point; Minister Simon Harris, TD; Marissa Ryan, EPIC; Rory Brown, Youth Council Rep and Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson Pavee Point at the launch of National Access Plan.

“We call for annual reviews of the Plan’s targets and for immediate targets to enhance second level completion as well as immediate action, in association with Traveller organisations to develop and implement the National Traveller Education Strategy most recently promised in the Programme for Government. 

“We acknowledge the work on disaggregated data and urge further action in this area to ensure that the ethnic monitoring essential for measuring progress in Traveller participation in and outcomes from Higher Education is possible “

Travellers and Roma are significantly under-represented in higher education with many barriers to access and supports across the education system, from early years to higher education.

In addition to the targets to increase Traveller and Roma access to higher education in the new National Access Plan, we also welcome the:

  • inclusion of Roma as a target group for the Plan
  • action to improve evidence base in this area 
  • discussions to consider the appointment of a PATH co-ordinator in the further education and training sector to support further education – higher education transitions for priority groups with a particular focus on students from Traveller and Roma communities
  • establishment of PATH 5, a three-year pilot of €450,000 per year, to support access, participation and success for students from the Traveller and Roma communities