Improving access to higher education for people with intellectual disabilities

Among the examples of good practice in inclusion and diversity at University College Cork (UCC) is the id+ Project for people with intellectual disabilities.


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Image: Students participating in UCC id+ Project

The id+ Project promotes the fundamental rights of people with intellectual disabilities to attend third-level education and to progress to paid employment.

Two new programmes are now available at UCC for adults with intellectual disabilities:

A key feature of both programmes is the opportunity for Certificate students to join degree students in existing modules across a range of disciplines. This provides an exciting opportunity for 'co-learning', where both groups learn with, from and about each other.

Critical to the success of these co-learning modules are:

  • id+ Project Fellows: Lecturers who are supported to deliver the co-learning module in a way that is universally accessible
  • id+ Project Peer Buddies: Degree students who support students with intellectual disability to fully participate in the co-learning module.

At the end of their Certificate programme, students participate in a three-month work placement with a local employer. A key aim of the project is to develop a digital portfolio of resources for inclusive teaching and learning in further and higher education, to support capacity building across the sector.

Testimonial from a university lecturer on her involvement in the id+ Project

The following is a reflection from Professor Mary Donnelly, UCC School of Law, on her experience of teaching students with intellectual disabilities ('Cert students') and postgraduate Law students ('LLM students') together in a 'Mental Capacity Law' co-learning module:

It was genuinely one of the most fulfilling teaching experiences I have ever had. This was entirely due to the great students – both the Cert students (who were phenomenal) and the LLM students (who were also great). It was also exhausting and nerve wracking at times – and there are ways I can improve. But overall, it was a truly wonderful experience with some incredible moments (and I am not normally given to this level of enthusiastic language!) … I believe that the LLM students will have learned more from the Cert students than I can ever teach them. And that this is something that is not necessarily immediate (though I am sure there are immediate benefits), but also in the longer term.


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