Certificate Programmes

Inclusive Higher Education for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities


Going to College (GTC) is a university/community partnership supporting the inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in the typical student experience at NUI Galway i.e. involvement in academic, social, volunteering and work placement activities. Students are registered full-time students and are fully included in undergraduate lectures and all other class activities, with opportunities emerging to work with their undergraduate peers. Academic staff in each of the disciplines guide and encourage the students in their coursework and provide individual feedback. This partnership with academic staff has been vital for the project to unfold successfully at NUI Galway. Educational assistants provide key support with coursework outside of class.

All students supported by the Going to College initiative are encouraged to volunteer and achieve their President’s award for volunteering. NUI Galway’s student volunteering programme, ALIVE, supports a reciprocal relationship between the student and the wider community and provides opportunities for the development of knowledge and transferable skills. Each student also has the opportunity to undertake a meaningful work placement during their college experience and join college clubs and societies. Students are also encouraged to use public transport to travel to college, further promoting their independence. 

On completion of their college experience, each student will receive a parchment from NUI Galway detailing their engagement and participation. Each student will also have the opportunity to achieve a Certificate in Academic and Civic Studies (Level 6 on NFQ Framework).

Aiming to support each student to develop the vision, knowledge and transferrable skills to live a more independent, inclusive life after university, Going to College is underpinned by a rights base and recognises the strengths and potential of each student to achieve, given the opportunity and appropriate needs-led support. To date students have been included in undergraduate courses in Archaeology, Celtic Civilisation, Earth & Ocean Sciences, Engineering, Human Rights, Irish, Italian, Marketing, Sociology & Political Science, and Theatre & Performance. Going to College works in partnership with each student, their family, university staff, intellectual disability service provider supports, volunteering organisations and employer organisations. Consistent with UNESCO’s principles for inclusion in education and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Going to College promotes citizenship, inclusion and participation, with a focus on the will and preferences of each individual student.

Going to College Project Partners

NUI Galway: UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre; Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway
Community: National Federation of Voluntary Bodies; Ability West; Brothers of Charity Galway Services; Brothers of Charity Roscommon Services; Western Care Association

Academic Directors

Professor Pat Dolan, Director, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway
Professor Gerard Quinn, Director, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway

More Information:

If you would like more information, please contact:
Breda Casey, Going to College Co-Ordinator, Arts Millenium Building, NUI Galway
Phone: 091 493621, Email: breda.casey@nuigalway.ie

The Going to College initiative acknowledges the valued support of our colleagues from the Alberta Association for Community Living, Canada, in the development of this inclusive higher education initiative. Going to College also acknowledges the key funding support provided by NUI Galway, Ability West, Brothers of Charity Galway Services, Brothers of Charity Roscommon Services, Western Care Association, Ireland Funds and Atlantic Philanthropies.


Foundation Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action

The Foundation Certificate is run in association with Foróige and the Adult and Continuing Education Office in NUI Galway. Foróige is Ireland’s largest national youth development organisation and the youth work partner of the UNESCO Chair programme.

The course is designed to equip youth with the required skills and confidence to take on positive leadership roles today and in the future. It is a year-long programme, delivered off campus by youth workers in Foróige clubs, projects and schools. It comprises three modules, youth leadership, leadership and community action and project work.

Further details are available here.

 Deirdra Henry, Mayo; Nina McWilliams, Galway; Dymphna Freyne, Mayo; David Molloy, Galway; Wayne Travers, Dublin; Teresa Coleman, Roscommon

The first graduates of the youth leadership programme from October 2010. Pictured (L-R): Deirdra Henry, Mayo; Nina McWilliams, Galway; Dymphna Freyne, Mayo; David Molloy, Galway; Wayne Travers, Dublin; Teresa Coleman, Roscommon.