The DIT Access and Civic Engagement Office is the main coordinator of civic engagement in DIT, along with Societies and the Chaplaincy. All these areas are part of Student Services.
There are three key strands of the work of the DIT Access and Civic Engagement Office.
1. Outreach and civic engagement
An extensive programme of outreach and civic engagement initiatives are co-ordinated in collaboration with the 4 DIT Colleges. Outreach activities are both college based (taking place both internally in DIT) and school and community group based (Access and Civic Engagement staff visit schools and community groups). Civic Engagement also plays a significant role in relation to community engagement in relation to Grangegorman. Participation rates in higher education vary from 11% in some disadvantaged areas to 86% in advantaged areas. DIT outreach and engagement programmes provide educational opportunities to people in disadvantaged communities. This provides familiarity with higher education and leads to improved attainment in the Leaving Certificate, which enables young people to consider applying to DIT via access entry routes. Through civic engagement activities, there are benefits to both communities and DIT students. DIT outreach and engagement is co-ordinated by a small group of Access and Civic Engagement staff and delivered in association with each of the DIT colleges, involving approximately 130 academic staff. Outreach and engagement programmes are Students Learning with Communities, the Dublin Inner City Schools Programme, Ballymun Music Programme and Computer Learning in Communities (CLiC).
2. Access entry routes for people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds
The DIT Access and Civic Engagement Office delivers 4 access entry routes and 1 pre-access entry route involving 5000+ applicants and approximately 300 entrants to DIT annually. Access entry routes provide targeted entry routes for students who have experienced socio-economic disadvantage (SED) or educational disadvantage from a disability. Such students are under-represented in higher education and research shows that disadvantage affects results obtained in school-leaving exams. The majority of SED students enter DIT at a reduced level of points and with considerable support before and during the application process, thus could not access DIT without these access entry routes. The main access entry routes (HEAR and DARE) are delivered via CAO in association with the universities and teacher training colleges (See www.accesscollege.ie for more information). These routes involve a detailed socio-economic and disability assessment process conducted by trained access staff.
3. Student engagement, support for access students, volunteering and induction opportunities for students in the areas of access and engagement
The DIT Access and Civic Engagement Office co-ordinates curriculum-based service learning opportunities for 1000+ DIT undergraduates, student support for 650 undergraduate access students and 40 mature foundation students and provides extensive volunteering and internship opportunities for DIT undergraduate students. Access student support provides a student-centred programme of academic, personal, financial and social supports for 650 young SED students and 40 mature students to enable the students entering at lower levels of points or experiencing disadvantage to overcome the impact of 18 years or more of socio-economic or educational disadvantage and progress through DIT. Student support is co-ordinated and delivered by access staff and in partnership with programme co-ordinators and tutors and student services.
In addition to the work of the DIT Access and Civic Engagement Office, the Societies staff and the Chaplaincy staff coordinate a programme of volunteering activities for DIT students. They offer an array of projects to interested students, from working with children, young people, and the elderly, to campaigns and fundraising, whether in the local community or overseas. Volunteering opportunities include a mix of student-led and service-led projects, so that students have an input into decision making and direction of projects - such as homework clubs, supervised study, mentoring, class reps, soup runs, flat decoration, drama, website building, arts and crafts, dancing, and juggling. For moreinformation on this Centre click this link