By Lauren Ennis
Dublin Institute of Technology’s (DIT) decision to abandon the need for garda vetting for mature access students has been widely accepted by students, staff, access programmes and politicians, according to Senator Lynn Ruane.
Mature applicants for the DIT Access Foundation Programme, which prepares students for third-level study, were previously advised that garda vetting would be an entry requirement for next September’s intake.
The decision was reversed last week following heavy criticism by politicians, staff, students and access programmes who believed the requirement would act as a deterrent to education.
It was also said to be discriminative of older people returning to education through the access programme in DIT.
In a statement, the college said that, “taking on board feedback received, in particular from former students on the programme but also from its wider constituency, the admissions officer Frank Costello says there will not now be a requirement for Garda vetting at application stage”.
“I was extremely happy, obviously that was the outcome we were looking for so we were very very happy and I think DIT acted on it quick enough that it might not have caused any long term stigmas around the students that are looking to access the programme,” said Ruane.
The one-year programme is open to mature students and young adults who have experienced socio-economic disadvantage. It caters for about 120 students a year and unlike similar programmes, graduates are guaranteed progression to a DIT CAO course.
DIT explained that a significant amount of students applying through this route would go on to study restricted courses which is why the requirement was necessary however, “this explanation didn’t really make any sense,” said Ruane.
“It is only a really small portion of students that go on to study restricted courses and the garda vetting is carried out at that point so at no stage did the decision to garda vet make any sense.”
While there has been no full explanation behind DIT’s decision to reverse their plans for garda vetting, Ruane said that the may have “realised that it wasn’t worthwhile and it would have a negative impact.”
“Maybe it was just a blind decision by someone who hadn’t really thought of the effect it could have and when it was pointed out that it was actually a negative move,” she said.
To introduce garda vetting as a requirement for all students across the board would be a more acceptable approach as “you’re not discriminating against a particular cohort of students,” said Ruane.
However, “It wouldn’t be acceptable in relation to data protection so there is other issues that play here other than discrimination and it is also the protection of people’s data so if there is absolutely no reason why the garda vetting is needed.”