National College of Ireland (NCI) accredited as an Autism Friendly Higher Education Institution.

Image Credit: Photocall Ireland

The introduction of facilities such as Quiet Spaces and a sensory pod on itscampus sees them accredited as such by AsIAm, Ireland’s national autism charity.

This makes them only the second Higher Education Institution (HEI) in Ireland to achieve this status, following DCU’s recognition in 2018.

Gina Quin, the President of NCI, stated that “We worked hard for and with our
students to achieve this award. This is not a static award to display in our atrium, but a living commitment to make NCI a welcoming place for autistic students”.

Simon Harris, TD, Minister for Higher and Further Education, paid the campus a visit earlier this week to see these facilities first-hand and to see how NCI is preparing to welcome their students back to campus this coming semester. Upon his visit, Minister Harris said “I am incredibly excited to see the truly inspirational work which has been carried out by the National College of Ireland to
create an autism friendly campus.”

Harris also stressed the importance of such renovations continuing on a broader scale, stating that “One of the key pillars of my department is to support learning for all. We need to create learning spaces that are accessible to everyone in society, ones which promote inclusion and equity, and foster understanding and compassion.”

These facilities are a part of a €5.4 million series of initiatives designed to help students with disabilities to access and fully participate in college life.

AsIAm’s Autism Friendly HEI Initiative was set up to address the fact that, even as more autistic people enter higher education, the number of graduates remains small in comparison.