Insight Statistical Consulting was selected to undertake the socio-economic data from new entrants to Higher Education in Ireland for 2013/14/15.
Promoting the attainment of equality of opportunity in higher education is one of the main functions of the Higher Education Authority. A National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education (National Access Office) was established in the HEA in 2003. The role of this office is to co-ordinate and advise national policy and funding measures facilitating greater educational access and opportunity for groups who are under-represented in higher education – those who are disadvantaged socially, economically and culturally, mature students and students with a disability.
The National Access Office works with all publicly-funded HEIs as well as the education system more broadly, and is currently implementing a second national strategy (2008-2013) to achieve equity of access to higher education.
A key element of the work of the National Office is monitoring and reporting on progress in implementing the action plan and the achievement of set targets and outcomes. This work is underpinned by the collection of comprehensive information on access to higher education by students from under-represented groups. The HEA agreed with HEIs that in 2007 and subsequent years that additional data be gathered on the access and participation by under-represented students in higher education. This information is provided to the HEA as part of the annual return for the HEA Student Record System (SRS) which is administered by the Statistics Section.
The information is gathered from new entrants to higher education as part of the annual student registration process of each HEI. The paper-based or on-line registration system of each institution includes additional questions on disability status and on socio-economic and cultural background.