A NEW project of the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is expected to be launched in September 2010. The HEAR 2 project will be an expansion and reform of the current HEAR scheme which began in 2000. It is hoped that the scheme will be accessible to approximately 430 schools nationwide when it begins.
Access Project Manager of the Irish University Association (IUA), Aine Galvin, revealed that a pilot project is expected to begin in September which aims to test “the indicators and how effectively the new processes and applications work”.
The new scheme hopes to be more transparent and accessible for those eligible to apply. Ms. Galvin explained that they are “looking at the way applicants are assessed, simplifying the application process and giving clear information to students”.
The expansion will include the addition of the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) to the project. NUIG will join the other existing universities as well as Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). The introduction of NUIG will enable students from areas in the border, midlands and west region (BMW) to benefit from the new scheme.
If the pilot project proves successful, it is hoped to launch the project nationwide in September 2010, Ms Galvin stated that the aim would be to make it more “inclusive and fair”. It is intended that when the project begins operating, any student from across the country eligible under the criteria of the scheme will be able to apply.
Ms Galvin is confident that the project will be a success despite the recent reduction of funding, assuring that “the universities made a decision that even in a tougher economic climate that access will be one of their priority projects”. However, she does admit that they need to be “very careful and esure we have the resources to process and manage the volume of applications, in terms of scaling up the scheme”.
The admission of approximately nine hundred students entering the participating institutions each year under the HEAR project was a factor in its continuing success. Ms Galvin affirmed that the scheme “has increased the number of participants by about 500 per cent”.
The HEAR programme was originally affiliated to particular link schools, allowing a limited number of students apply to the scheme. However, it is hoped that potential eligible students nationwide will be able to benefit from the new HEAR 2 scheme.
The HEAR project allows Leaving Certificate students the opportunity to apply for a number of reserved places in the participating institutions such as DCU, DIT, NUI Maynooth, TCD, UCC and UCD. The scheme targets students from disadvantaged areas who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in third level education but are unable to enter due to social and economic factors.