University of Limerick
Ryan_2022_Evaluation.pdf (1.18 MB)

Evaluation of the Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH), Strand 3 initiatives across the Mid-West Cluster

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posted on 2024-03-05, 17:22 authored by Majka RyanMajka Ryan

On behalf of the Mid-West Cluster, it is my great pleasure to present this important research report examining the progress and impact of the Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) Strand 3 across the Limerick region. Nationally, the PATH adopts a regional cluster approach to facilitate effective partnerships among higher education institutions to work with linked schools, further education providers, community and voluntary groups and other relevant stakeholders to facilitate the attraction and retention of undergraduate students from under-represented target groups within their clusters. At a local level, the Strand 3 PATH Mid-West Cluster comprises of the University of Limerick (UL), Mary Immaculate College (MIC), and Technological University of Shannon (TUS), and forms a close partnership with the local education and community stakeholders. This inter-institutional and multiagency regional collaboration aims to create positive change in the community by breaking down social, economic, and institutional barriers preventing learners from accessing and progressing through Higher Education.

The Mid-West Cluster’s PATH 3 initiatives are funded by the Higher Education Authority and comprise of the three key projects, including Destination College (UL and TUS), Supporting the Journey: Lone Parents (MIC) and Education Programme for Irish Travellers and Early School-Leavers (TUS). With its innovative methodology, the Mid-West Cluster’s PATH 3 programmes provide critical academic, financial, and personal supports enabling learner’s access to and student success in Higher Education.

This research report offers an insight into the PATH 3 Mid-West Cluster’s successes and challenges to date. The report evidences the lived experiences of educational exclusion, struggles to access, transition and progress through Higher Education embedded in the everyday multifaceted disadvantage that impoverished communities endure. It points to the important impact that the PATH 3 Mid-West Cluster’s programmes have on those under-represented groups and their journey through education. It also highlights the incredible resilience of the learners, and their families, in achieving their educational aspirations. The report also reveals the unbreakable community spirit and support offered by the education and community stakeholders, as well as the staff of the PATH 3 projects and wider Access programmes in UL, MIC, and TUS. The lessons from this report will undoubtedly inform the future PATH 3 policies and practice, as well as raise community awareness and offer inspiration.

Professor Nigel Healey

On behalf of the Mid-West Cluster Higher Education Institutions (UL, TUS and MIC)



Mid-West Cluster

Other Funding information

The research project was funded by the Higher Education Authority, Ireland as part of the PATH 3 Phase 1 funding stream

Sustainable development goals

  • (4) Quality Education
  • (10) Reduced Inequality

Department or School

  • Work and Employment Studies

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