Munster Technological University – Munster, Ireland

The official name for the programme is Munster Technological University’s Strategic Approach to Universal Design for Equity and Inclusion for All Staff and Students and was initiated by the Assistant Registrar, Academic staff, disability services, students access office, President, and Senior Executive. The equity groups supported by this programme include persons with disabilities, low-income students, first generation students, students/staff with a refugee or migrant background, LGBTQ+ students and staff, ethnic minorities, mature students, students with care experience and students with intellectual disabilities.

The activities that the programme has carried out in the last two years with regard to equal access, inclusion and diversity include:


  • Support and counselling for students and university staff
  • Lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff
  • Training courses for peer educators
  • Public promotion (e.g. production of media content such as podcasts)
  • Improving physical accessibility
  • Improving digital accessibility 


In addition to these activities, the programme also implements binding policy (legislation), strategy/ action plans, recommendations/guidelines and preventative programmes to counter exclusionary and discriminatory practises in the University.


The last innovative practises/tools the University introduced when it came to ensuring inclusion, diversity and equal access included; student designed and delivered staff continuing professional development training on appropriate accommodations and how they impact learning and the sense of belonging within Munster Technological University, ongoing enhancement of staff application of UDL and recognition of prior learning practices, and attainment of Age Friendly University status. 

Munster Technological University, as a newly merged institution, identified the opportunity to focus on the common value of justice and equity in all staff and students to collate historical actions and strategically plan and coordinate across all six campuses and 18,000 students. The University is a higher education institution committed to inclusive education and to a University for All where all staff and students can feel safe, supported, stimulated, able to express themselves and flourish. Universal Design provides a framework through which our educational environment can be transformed and inclusive education realised. ​Munster Technological University also uses a whole systems approach which embeds the required changes in institutional culture, policies and practices. ​ The motivation for establishing the programme was to create a coordinated strategic approach to planning and responding to inclusion and equity needs at the University for staff and students; to identify expertise and the voice of experience to enhance staff and students awareness and capacity to be universally design orientated in their values and practices; to strategically manage external and internal funding opportunities to create future proofed and sustainable changes within the University community, structures and infrastructures; to ensure a student partnership approach within the University, and to engage with enterprise and wider society to enhance inclusion and equity for all within the circle of influence of the University. The establishment of the Universitys’ Universal Design Framework Implementation Steering Committee is vital as an external facing visible commitment to action and as an internal facing coordination of strategic planning in this space. The committee’s membership includes MTU President, Registrars, Senior Management, Staff Representatives and Student representatives. It is important that the cultural understanding is that inclusion and equity of opportunity is everyone’s responsibility for both staff and students in every context. Ensuring that capacity building is available to all to enhance self-representation, awareness and embracing of difference, application of UD and UDL, enhancement of physical, structural and infrastructure systems to create choice and opportunity. Collaborating and learning from others is vital, both student and staff voice of experience needs to be within all discussions.
Munster Technological University’s strategy and policies are all written within the Irish Legislative and policy framework, such as the National Access Plan: A Strategic Action Plan for Equity of Access, Participation and Success in Higher Education 2022-2028.
The actions of this programme are coordinated and led from the Office of the Assistant Registrar, Teaching and Learning and Student Engagement. Reporting to the President and Munster Technological University Executive. Diversity, inclusion and equality are explicitly mentioned in the programme and the University’s strategies, policies and work plans, with the Registrar’s office and collaborations with offices of function within the University and student voices contributing to programme design and other activities. The programme is part of local, regional, national, european, and global networks, with significant benefits of such participation including; learning from others and sharing experiences, and maintaining a policy and legislative awareness.
The main challenges that the programme has had to overcome to maintain success include increased workload and time as there is no specific funding in the Irish higher education framework. Often, short term funds are very important to future proof all actions for sustainability of impact. The stability of the funding for the programme is moderate, with funds coming from central core funds as part of the daily role of the office and external HEA funding.
This programme has a formal evaluation process and is evaluated through the numbers of individuals involved in various activities such as staff and students delivering/ attending training, numbers of new courses available, number of non-traditional students in the University, and student voice feedback. Evaluation data is collected through a variety of surveys and case studies. The evaluation report is disseminated through email, presentations, social media and reports/ infographics to the HEA, University Senior Executive, and all staff and students.

Munster Technological University’s Strategic Approach to Universal Design for Equity and Inclusion for All Staff and Students

Munster, Ireland