DIT drops demand for Garda vetting on course
Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has abandoned a controversial move to make Garda vetting a condition for adults applying to a "second-chance education" course.
The introduction of the requirement provoked criticism from those who said it would act as a deterrent to education.
Critics included Independent Senator Lynn Ruane - herself a graduate of a similar programme in Trinity College Dublin.
Ms Ruane argued that college access programmes were a "fundamental part of how we tackle socio-economic inequality and are a key asset in ensuring access to higher education for minority and disadvantaged groups".
DIT admissions officer Frank Costello issued a message stating that it had taken on board the feedback, in particular from former students of the programme, and was dropping vetting as a requirement at the application stage.
The one-year DIT Mature Student Access Foundation Programme is the largest of its kind in the country, with an annual intake of about 120 mature students, who use it to prepare for third-level study.
Unusually, for such a programme, those who successfully complete it are guaranteed a place to a DIT CAO course of choice, and many progress to courses for which Garda vetting is a requirement.
Garda vetting is now common on courses where work placements involve dealing with children or vulnerable adults, as well as for volunteering activities, which is why DIT decided to include it as an admission stage of the mature student access programme.
Defending the move last week, DIT said it would prevent access students subsequently finding themselves disbarred from participating in activities, or being restricted from placements and possibly not completing their programme.
The college pointed out that the vetting only addressed issues of concern for the protection of children and vulnerable adults and that a criminal record, arrest or other misdemeanour would not prevent an individual from being approved under the process.
After the about-turn, Mr Costello said it would now identify other mechanisms to ensure that "students who expressed an interest in further study in certain areas would be facilitated at an early stage to complete the vetting process to ensure their seamless transition into their degree programme of choice".