TUS Continues to Pioneer its work for Students with Intellectual Disabilities by Introducing Accredited Higher Education opportunities

Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) is pioneering advancements in access to higher accredited education, with the roll out of Level 6 accredited courses for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) from next January, under the Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH).


Taoiseach Simon Harris and Minister for Further and Higher Education Patrick O’Donovan have announced additional investment in PATH 4 which will allow the TUS Midlands and Midwest campuses provide equity of access to higher education opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities in their region.


This will be achieved through the new accredited TUS Shine Scholars programme that is designed to assist learners with ID to achieve an academic award through a comprehensive university experience but to also have the opportunity to secure gainful employment in their own region upon graduation using their academic qualification.


President of TUS Professor Vincent Cunnane said, “TUS is committed to providing regionally relevant education that is accessible to all, and this programme supports that mission while resonating strongly with our values. For true equality it is important that students of this course are immersed in the full university experience, and that is why we have developed the TUS Shine Scholars programme which includes further supports to allow this to happen.”


TUS Vice President Student Education and Experience Frances O’Connell added, “PATH 4 provides accredited learning opportunities for all students with intellectual disabilities. The Shine Scholars Programme will initially run on our TUS Athlone and Moylish campuses from January 2025, with a view to wider provision in our other campuses in the region over time and based on an evaluation of the roll-out of the programme to maximise its impact for students, their families, and with employers. 


“The programme aims to ensure its sustainability in the longer term by its responsiveness to the needs of students with ID in our region having an equivalent opportunity to access accredited higher education. The longer-term impact will be on the lives of our graduates from this programme who will experience greater levels of independence and inclusion in their communities through employment and education.  By having an accredited level 6 qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications, the learner will also have further learning opportunities open to them should they wish to pursue further studies.”


The proposed Shine Scholars programme consists of six individual Special Purpose Awards (SPAs) which are on the National Framework of Qualifications at Level 6. This structure enables a student to accumulate credits as they move through the programme, it also offers credited exit opportunities should any student wish to leave the programme. The work placements will be tailored to the individual interest, competencies and needs of the students.


This programme is also designed to support integration, where students on this programme are enabled to attend mainstream tutorial or practical classes on existing university modules for the discipline specific modules, thereby providing an authentic university experience and facilitating enhanced peer to peer and social learning opportunities for students