Education, access and widening participation

RCSI is committed to facilitating access and widening participation of underrepresented groups in higher education and to contributing to the creation of a future healthcare workforce reflective of Ireland’s diverse population.

Our aim is to increase the diversity of students and expand places for EU students across all our programmes, with a particular focus on increased opportunities for access students.

Simulation presentation with teenagers

REACH, our community engagement and access programme, connects our university with our local community in Dublin city centre, facilitating educational support and promoting health awareness.

The RCSI Engage strategy outlines our commitment to supporting outreach programmes and projects in our local community.

Established in 2007, the REACH RCSI programme is a unique dedicated community outreach and access programme. Promoting recreation, education and community health, the initiative is aimed at encouraging and facilitating participation and enhancing opportunities for those traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

As part of our RCSI Engage strategy, REACH RCSI works in partnership with primary and post-primary schools, youth and community groups on the design and delivery of educational initiatives. One such initiative is a Junior and Leaving Certificate Grinds Club, which offers free one-to-one academic support to secondary level students from our local community.

Students are encouraged to participate in various initiatives throughout the year – for example, REACH Sports Day, Junior and Leaving Certificate Grinds Club, science workshops and health programmes – in an effort to enhance the life chances of the students who take part.

Health in the community
We harness our expertise and resources to promote improved lifelong health and well-being in our local community. By working with our link schools at primary and post-primary level and collaborating with community partners, we improve health and well-being for everyone in our locality.

RCSI provides free medical checks for members of the local community through Dublin's Mercer's Medical Centre as part of the REACH RCSI programme.

Local education
REACH RCSI focuses on integrated educational support that raises aspirations and empowers local students throughout their educational journey.

By fostering awareness of our research and by generating enthusiasm for careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM), we are improving the educational outcomes of learners locally.

Our mentoring programmes help local students to find their passions, set career goals, make informed choices and become motivated to succeed.

REACH RCSI ‘See it, Do it’ is an initiative aiming to support the teaching of Leaving Certificate biology in our link schools by giving students the opportunity to work within a laboratory environment.

The 'Your Place is Here' campaign aims to raise awareness of the supports and pathways available to underrepresented demographics in higher level education and persuade them to consider engaging in some of the access pathways.

Other cross-university collaborations include the 1916 Bursary, a financial award, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) which aims to encourage participation and success for students who are most socio-economically disadvantaged and from groups most under-represented in higher education.

While the Creative Arts Summer School is a free programme run annually across a range of different participating universities which is available to ACCESS learners over the age of 16, offering them the opportunity to participate in an exciting programme of creative arts workshops led by experienced creative arts tutors in conjunction with NCAD.

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The RCSI Transition Year (TY) MiniMed, MiniPharm, MiniScience and MiniPhysio programmes take place annually, and offer transition year students an excellent opportunity to gain experience of what it is like to train and work as a healthcare professional.

Students have the opportunity to take part in lectures, practical and real-life surgeries via video link to the operating theatre, all carried out by leading professionals in their respective areas.

Find more information about our TY programmes here.

Three schoolgirls laugh during presentation

As a higher education institution singularly focused on health sciences, RCSI recognises the importance of fostering engagement with STEMM subjects in young people. During our innovative Junior Research Programme, post primary school students gain first-hand experience of scientific research.

Funded by the SFI Discover Funding Programme and culminating during Science Week 2022, the Junior Researcher Programme involved 70 first-year students from link DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools, CBS Westland Row and Presentation Secondary School, Warrenmount. Budding researchers took part in a series of workshops, presentations and lab sessions both in school and at RCSI, to experience what it’s like to study and work in science and research and understand the real impact it has on society.

The programme involved interactive laboratory sessions led by RCSI researchers and PhD scholar mentors focused on encouraging participants to develop interest in and enthusiasm for the STEMM subjects.

As well as hearing from RCSI mentors about their journey from secondary school into research careers, the students took part in a hands-on group research project, forming teams with assigned roles, including project manager, data analyst and technician.

Three school children and one adult pose with certificates

RCSI’s Primary Science for Teachers Initiative allows our academic staff to work across the educational sector by supporting school teachers to develop their science teaching skills.

The REACH RCSI initiative gives teachers the confidence to conduct hands-on activities and experiments in the classroom – leading the next generation towards a career in science and healthcare. 

RCSI offers several scholarships to students hoping to study Medicine, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and Advanced Therapeutic Technologies at Undergraduate level.

Many of these scholarships are awarded to students who excel academically but may not have the resources or support to complete their studies.

RCSI Access Scholarships
Our current scholarships, funded through a combination of philanthropy and grant funding/

  • Aim High Medicine Scholarship
  • Ireland Healthcare Aim High Scholarship
  • Kiran Pathak Pharmacy Scholarship
  • Traveller and Roma Community Access Scholarship
  • HEA funded 1916 Bursary
  • Uversity Scholarship
  • NUI Equal Educational Opportunities Scheme

RCSI is a member of the Higher Education Authority Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) Leinster Pillar 1 Cluster, a six-college consortium, working collaboratively with UCD, IADT, MIE, NCAD and TCD to promote and advance equality of access to higher education for under-represented groups.

RCSI participates in the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR), which supports school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) which supports students applying to RCSI with a disability.

Find more information on access and disability at RCSI here.

Get in touch

If you wish to collaborate or get involved in RCSI’s wide array of access and widening participation activity, please contact:

Maria Kelly, Head of RCSI Engage. Email: