THOUSANDS of Limerick families have been supported by the University of Limerick’s AccessCampus since it launched 20 years ago this month.
The project was launched in 2003 by then president of the European Parliament Pat Cox.
In partnership with Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership (LEDP) the core aim of the facility was to challenge educational disadvantage in areas of social and economic deprivation in Limerick city and its environs.
Donal O’Leary, UL’s AccessCampus coordinator, said that the idea originally came about out of a want to support students and learners in disadvantaged areas.
“The idea for AccessCampus originally came from LEDP who set out to re-establish the former Krups site in Roxboro into a meaningful, impactful, and relevant presence in the local communities.”
“What was created was a mini-campus which supports people in realising their potential through outreach educational opportunities. The AccessCampus caters for a diverse range of learners, ranging from primary school children to mature learners and to university students,” he explained.
Mr O’Leary continued: “Since its establishment, the UL AccessCampus has seen over 1,500 young people join Study Club from 15 different local secondary schools, and has worked with countless local community and educational organisations to offer a range of informal and formal learning opportunities on site.”
“The work in AccessCampus has been supported by almost 1,000 UL student volunteers and its community-based initiatives have provided valuable learning experiences for undergraduate students on co-op placements.”
“UL AccessCampus has also facilitated community-based practicum and practice education placements for postgraduate students from disciplines such as public health, occupational therapy, music therapy, and for undergraduate students from physiotherapy,” he said.
The AccessCampus is open from Monday to Friday, and also opens for two local church groups at weekends. The diversity of user groups and collaborations displays the breadth and strength of the interest in education across all generations and strata of the local communities.
Niall O’Callaghan, CEO of LEDP, said: “Over the past 20 years, AccessCampus has become more than just a link between education and the community. It has become a place where people can find hope and unlock their true potential.”
“We’re keenly aware of the barriers to further education, so we look forward to continuing this unique partnership initiative with UL and furthering the educational opportunities for all students in our community.”