Teachers 'need to be role models for disadvantaged pupils'
More teachers who hail from disadvantaged backgrounds are needed as role models for future generations, according to the new National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education.
The plan, which was launched yesterday by Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan and Tanaiste Joan Burton, will target school-leavers from socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, Travellers and mature students.
Its aims include an increased participation by students from non-manual and semi-skilled/unskilled worker families by an average of 300 a year.
And it hopes to boost the number of Travellers in higher education from 35 to 80 a year.
While college participation rates by students from non-traditional backgrounds have improved in recent years, they still lag way behind other groups.
Children of non-manual workers make up about 25pc of 17-19-year-olds but comprise only 11pc of new college entrants.
Meanwhile, the children of higher professionals make up 6pc of 17-19-year-olds but take up 13pc of college places.
The plan will be underpinned by an initial €3m, half of which will be used next year to boost the fund that assists students who experience financial pressure that can be a deciding factor in them dropping out of college.