On Saturday, 2 September, Maynooth University welcomed 900 students for registration for its weekend-long Launchpad programme, the first step in a semester-long phased induction programme for Access students about to embark on their undergraduate journey. The programme aims to ease new students, who are often the first in their families to go to third level, into university life in a supported and friendly setting.
Launchpad is unique in Irish higher education due to its scale; over 900 new students and 1,100 of their supporters attend the programme. Students attending Launchpad have entered Maynooth through HEAR (Higher Education Access Route), DARE (Disability Access Route to Education), further education and training, or the entry routes for mature students.
Maynooth University Access Programme was established in 1998 to increase the numbers of students from under-represented backgrounds getting to and through the university. The vision is to develop a student body in Maynooth that reflects the diversity of Irish society. Maynooth University works in partnership with the campus community, primary and second level schools, further education and training providers, NGOs and other higher education institutions to widen access and participation at third level.
Maynooth University Vice-President Academic, Professor Aidan Mulkeen, stated: “Maynooth University is committed to ensuring that our doors are open to everyone who can benefit from a Maynooth education. We recognise the transformative power of higher education and how it can elevate individuals, families, and entire communities. We also know that education is key to reducing the myriad of inequalities that exist in Irish society today. Over the past 20 years, Maynooth University has been built on the core principles of equality, inclusiveness and social justice.”
Karen Herdman from Kildare was a stay at home mum with two young sons and is now a lecturer in Chemistry in Maynooth University, having successfully completed her PhD. She returned to education by enrolling on the Certificate in Science course in Maynooth in 2007.
“I was informed that the Foundation Course would give me an automatic place on the Bachelor of Science degree if certain grades were attained. I did a maths introduction course with Maynooth University Access Programme during the summer and started the Certificate course in September. The Foundation course was of great importance to me. It gave me the confidence to know that I could return to third level education and complete it successfully. Having met similar mature students and become friends it was less daunting to start an undergraduate degree with hundreds of younger people. During the four years of my degree, I received first class honours in my subjects, was awarded first prize for the highest overall Chemistry Laboratory marks, first prize for the best marks in Chemistry, first prize for the highest mark in Psychology through science and the Kathleen Lonsdale prize for the best 1st class degree for single honours chemistry. The Certificate course taught me how to manage my time between home and study. It also showed me how to approach exams. It gave me confidence in my ability to continue studying.”