There is considerable evidence of substantial class inequalities in the education system in Ireland. Studies point to the overemphasis on academic achievement leading to an under-representation of certain class groups at third level institutions. Significant resources have been allocated to establish targeted access initiatives to address this form of social exclusion. This paper reports the findings of a survey of 266 access students from four third-level institutions in Ireland. The survey identifies the socio-economic background of access programme participants, their pre-programme education level and the primary influences, which motivated them to avail of the access tiative. The paper examines the role, which financial considerations play in the initial decision to participate and the sustained participation of access students. The paper proposes some additional policy directions for the access programme. It recommends that the projected reduction in the numbers attending third-level institutions should be seen as an appropriate opportunity to expand the access initiative and target those experiencing educational disadvantage.
- social exclusion
- access programmes