Education Awards Success for DCU Access to the Workplace

DCU Access to the Workplace has been announced as the winner of the Best Business and Third Level Institution Collaboration category at the Education Awards for 2020. The announcement was made at a special awards ceremony in the Ballsbridge Hotel on Thursday, 20th February.

Established by DCU Educational Trust and DCU’s Access Service in 2019, DCU Access to the Workplace enables students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds to secure high-quality, fully paid, professional summer work experience in established workplaces.

The award recognises the significant impact of the 39 companies who partnered with the programme in 2019 to provide quality summer work placements for 50 Access students. With all partner companies also making a philanthropic contribution, DCU Access to the Workplace also raised an additional €395,000 to support DCU’s Access Programme last year.

The Education Awards were established in 2017 to recognise, encourage and celebrate excellence in the Irish education sector. Other winners on the night included NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, University College Cork and DCU’s Centre for Talented Youth, which took the top prize in the Best Education Outreach category.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Jason Sherlock, Director of Development with DCU Educational Trust stated:

“DCU Access to the Workplace exemplifies how companies can make a significant contribution to the personal, academic and professional development of talented students. We are honoured to receive this award which recognises that our collaboration with partner companies was fundamental to creating this life-changing programme.”


Fiona Hudson, DCU Access to the Workplace Coordinator, who accepted the award on the night, explained the importance of the programme for the university’s Access students:

“With research released by the Higher Education Authority in 2019 revealing that, when all other factors are equal after graduation, students from disadvantaged areas continue to earn less than students from more affluent areas, DCU Access to the Workplace is an important additional support to enhance the future career prospects and social mobility of our Access students.”


An independent evaluation of the 2019 pilot, showed that both students and employers reported significant benefits due to their participation in the programme:


  • Participating students collectively earned approximately €180,000.
  • The quality of placements distinguished the experience, with 94% of students surveyed stating they would have been unable to secure a placement of similar quality through their own networks.


  • Out of 22 companies interviewed, feedback indicated that the programme offered an opportunity to enhance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, to bring fresh perspectives and an opportunity to give staff line management and mentoring responsibilities.
  • 100% of companies interviewed plan to offer an Access to the Workplace placement in 2020.

The final deadline for companies to register for DCU Access to the Workplace 2020 is 31st March 2020. To find out more about the programme, please visit or email Fiona Hudson, DCU Access to the Workplace Coordinator at