Students from DCU’s Access Service joined LinkedIn staff at their Wilton Park campus in Dublin to announce a three-year commitment from LinkedIn to support DCU’s award-winning Access to the Workplace programme.

For over 30 years, DCU has run Ireland’s first and largest university Access programme, which now supports over 1,000 students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue their dream of higher education at DCU each year.

DCU Access to the Workplace was launched in response to data showing that graduates from disadvantaged areas continue to earn less than those from more affluent areas, even when they graduate with the same qualifications and grades. Since 2019, the programme has provided 245 high-quality summer internships for DCU Access students at leading Irish companies.

In 2022, the programme won first place in the Times Higher Education Awards for Widening Participation Initiative of the Year.

Fiona Hudson, DCU’s Access to the Workplace Programme Development Lead, explained:

We know from Higher Education Authority research that even when all other factors are equal after graduation, students from disadvantaged areas continue to earn less than students from more affluent areas. Access to the Workplace is a vital tool to level the playing field for our students, and we’re very pleased that LinkedIn is supporting the development of this programme as we seek to grow and expand its impact.”


LinkedIn’s support will fund the growth and expansion of the Access to the Workplace programme from 2023 to 2025, including the development of a post-internship mentoring programme. Their support will enable 450 students to engage with the Access to the Workplace Programme, and will provide up to 1,000 Access students in the final year of their studies with the opportunity to attend LinkedIn career workshops.

Commenting on the partnership, Sharon McCooey, Head of LinkedIn Ireland, said:

Everybody should have the same opportunities in life regardless of their background. DCU’s Access to the Workplace programme illustrates this perfectly, and at LinkedIn, we also believe that no-one should be left behind.

“Our partnership complements a range of other community initiatives that we are committed to in Ireland and across the globe, ranging from helping connect minority or disadvantaged groups with job opportunities, to coaching jobseekers for interviews. Helping take DCU’s Access programme to the next level is a positive legacy that we are proud to be a part of.


Speaking about the launch, Joe Quinsey, CEO of DCU Educational Trust said:

We are extremely grateful to LinkedIn for their support of this award-winning programme, which will provide DCU Access students and neurodivergent students with  life-changing internship opportunities with leading Irish companies across Ireland this summer. Their support will help us scale this programme to the next level, ensuring the continued smooth operation of summer internships for up to 130 students, alongside the development of a new mentoring programme and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the programme’s impact.”


About Access to the Workplace

Access to the Workplace internships will take place between May and August in 2023, with students completing placements ranging from four to twelve weeks. This year, the programme also introduced a small pilot to explore the possibility of extending its benefits to other student groups, commencing with allocating 10% of places for neurodivergent students.

DCU Access to the Workplace has also been supported by Rethink Ireland’s Children and Youth Fund, which has enabled the programme’s growth and development from 2020 to 2022. The full list of partner companies can be viewed here.