AN ACADEMIC residing in Quin has been announced as the new Chairperson of the Inclusive National Higher Education Forum (INHEF).
Ennis native, Dr Órla Slattery takes over the role from the inaugural Chair, Mr Des Aston of Trinity College Dublin. The INHEF is a national interest group comprised of representatives of higher education providers interested in supporting access routes and inclusive education initiatives to learners with intellectual disabilities in Ireland.
Its membership is comprised of several higher education institutions, including UCC, MTU, ATU Athlone and DCU. The INHEF has become a powerful driver of change within the landscape of higher education in Ireland, and has provided a dedicated platform to address the systemic barriers to inclusion for people with intellectual disability wishing to pursue post-secondary education.
A lecturer in Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Dr Slattery works as Inclusion Co-ordinator for Adults with Intellectual Disability at MIC.
Órla said it was “a great honour” to take up the role having been a long-standing member of the INHEF. She praised her predecessor for his “pioneering work” which she credited with causing “significant change throughout the sector”.
She added, “At this pivotal time when we welcome the introduction of PATH 4 Phase 2, which aims to enhance course provision for students with intellectual disabilities in our colleges and universities it is more important than ever, that we continue to uphold the mission and values of the INHEF as we work together to create a more equitable higher education landscape in Ireland”.
Since 2011, Dr Slattery has worked within the Faculty of Education and has established strong community links with agency partners such as Enable Ireland and the Brothers of Charity to support the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities at MIC.
Under her leadership, the Certificate in General Learning and Personal Development (CGLPD) received formal ccreditation in 2017. The CGLPD is a level 4 QQI award which is accredited in partnership with the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, thereby representing an innovative cross sectoral partnership between the FET and HE sectors.
In additional to her work in the local community, she has actively championed the inclusion of people with intellectual disability at a national level as a member of the INHEF Steering committee.