The partnership between An Cosán, Ireland’s largest community education provider based in Jobstown, Tallaght, and South East Technological University (SETU) has received a boost of €1million in funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The announcement was made recently by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, at the HEA’s System Performance Framework launch hosted at SETU’s campus in Carlow.
This was one of five HEA Performance Fund grants announced for higher education institutions across Ireland. The funding was awarded on the strength of a case study submitted to the HEA titled: ‘SETU and An Cosán: Using the power of community education to create transformative higher education pathways for social inclusion and sustainable development’. An Cosán has worked in collaboration with SETU Lifelong Learning since 2008 in the development and delivery of higher education courses. The collaboration has been recognised nationally as a model of engagement that breaks the cycle of educational disadvantage and reaches learners who would not traditionally have had access to third-level education.An Cosán’s learner-centred, holistic, and transformative educational model was initially based around targeting priority groups in the local community in West Tallaght.
Through its partnership with SETU Lifelong Learning and network of over 220 community partners, this was expanded to establish a national Linked Provision programme that has demonstrated leadership in equity of access, participation, and success. An Cosán now provides third-level opportunities for over 100 learners annually, who study across a range of disciplines and award levels. The provision of online course delivery combined with An Cosán’s extensive offering of wraparound supports, including hospitality and childcare, flexible scheduling, tutor support and mental health services, facilitates greater access, inclusion, and participation on courses. Speaking following the announcement of the award, Heydi Foster, Chief Executive Officer at An Cosán, said, “We are thrilled our valuable Linked Partnership with SETU has been recognised in this way by the Higher Education Authority. The Performance Fund grant will ensure we continue to reach the furthest behind first through our progressive pathways to higher education.
We look forward to further collaboration with SETU and to expanding our successful community-based higher education programmes so that more adult learners from marginalised communities across Ireland can achieve empowerment through education.” Rosemary Flynn, Director of Lifelong Learning at SETU in Carlow, commented, “This award recognises our learner-centred, holistic, and transformative model of education and consistently ensures priority groups’ access, participation, and personal and academic achievement. This award is focused on our learners – they are leaders in their homes, families and their communities and we look forward to working with An Cosán in this new phase of our partnership.”
Pictured: L-R Dr Helen Murphy, Head of School of Education and Lifelong Learning at South East Technological University (SETU); Thomas Murray, Higher Education Lead at An Cosán; Rosemary Flynn, Director of Lifelong Learning at SETU; Heydi Foster, CEO at An Cosán, Adelaide Nic Chárthaigh, Adult Community Education Manager at An Cosán.