Jessica Gough, Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Gerard Gallagher
STUDENTS with mobility challenges should not be discouraged from taking part in international opportunities such as the Erasmus programme, a former University of Limerick student has advised.
Jessica Gough, a former UL applied languages student who has a form of cerebral palsy, has had many successful experiences while studying abroad.
“You need to have a positive attitude and know your own needs,” Ms Gough said.
Ms Gough now acts as Ireland’s Erasmus Student Ambassador.
“I researched each placement, finding out who to contact in each country before I travelled and this helped me overcome the challenges of my disability.”
Ms Gough was speaking at the launch of a new report into improving access to international opportunities by removing barriers that exist for students.
The ‘Enhancing Mobility for Access Students Ireland’ report and an online student resource, mobilitytookit.ie, was launched by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor at the University of Limerick.
The report, which was produced by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), looks at ways to increase student participation in programmes like the Erasmus+, for non-traditional students, like mature students, students with disabilities or from lower socio-economic groups.
As a student with a disability, Gerard Gallagher believed that the Erasmus experience was not an option for him. Now a disability advisor, Mr Gallagher encourages his students to embrace every opportunity.
“I believe that life experience and skills gained on Erasmus+ are transferable for success in education and employment,” he said. In recent times, he has supported many students with significant disabilities to study abroad, he added.