A freshman got college supports for people with disabilities following a Twitter campaign started by his father.
oghan Clonan (19) secured a place to study liberal arts at Dublin Business School (DBS) this year.
After receiving his college offer last week, Eoghan’s parents reached out to DBS about supports for their son. He suffers from a neuromuscular disease.
Eoghan’s father Dr Tom Clonan explained that these supports are called the Disabled Students Fund (SDF) and the college must apply for the grant to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the student. .
Dr Clonan said the family received a communication from the HEA earlier this week, saying Eoghan was not eligible for support because DBS is a private college.
He then took to Twitter and made a public appeal to Minister of Advanced Education Simon Harris to intervene on behalf of his son and other students who are in a similar situation.
Dr Clonan said he was contacted by Minister Harris on Tuesday evening and explained the situation to the minister.
He said he explained that there is an anomaly that students with disabilities who attend universities such as UCD and Trinity College Dublin can get the FDS, but not those who attend colleges designated as private.
Dr Clonan said he expressed that this was an arbitrary distinction that discriminated against Eoghan and would prevent him from attending the third level.
Eoghan’s disability, his father explained, means he needs a caregiver who can come and go to college with him and who can act as a scribe during lectures.
Dr Clonan said that speaking to Minister Harris it was like “one parent reaching out to another”.
“He said I will ask my officials about it tomorrow. He spoke to the HEA and they overturned the decision. So Eoghan will get his support, hopefully, so he can go to college and continue the journey of his life, ”he told Independent.ie.
“But more importantly, the rule of operation of the program by the HEA has changed. “
Dr Clonan said it had been a “roller coaster week” for the family and it came after a very difficult certificate release cycle for Eoghan who was severely affected by the pandemic.
“We have fought very hard over the years to keep Eoghan in regular schools and to keep him in school. The fifth and sixth years were very difficult for him because he is visually impaired and in a wheelchair.
“He lost a good chunk of fifth grade because he couldn’t engage in virtual learning and the same in sixth grade with the repeated blockages – he lost a good chunk of those two years vital.
“Despite having passed all six subjects of his Leaving Cert,” he said.
Dr Clonan, who works as a lecturer at the Technological University of Dublin, said it was an important victory for Eoghan and other students with disabilities, but added that it was a struggle that they all know too well.
“Over the years we have had experiences where we have had to fight for everything. There is absolutely no doubt about it, Ireland is one of the worst countries in the European Union to have a handicap in every measure and it should be the best.
“In fairness to everyone involved, Simon Harris did exactly what it says on the tin. I asked him for help, and he helped me, ”he added.
Dr Clonan’s initial tweet garnered over 4,300 likes and drew 906 retweets.
Her post today, sharing the good news that the fundraising rule has been changed, sparked congratulatory posts from dozens of individuals and organizations on the social media platform.
Dublin Business School wrote: “Congratulations Eoghan, we are really looking forward to welcoming you to @DBScollege!
“It’s a great success. At DBS, we believe in fairness and equal opportunity for all students in the pursuit of their educational goals.