Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

TCPID Learning Without Limits - A celebration of 20 years of the TCPID

Minister Simon Harris joined students, past and present, at the ‘Learning Without Limits’ conference. Together they celebrated the achievements of the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities, which has hit a 20-year milestone of inclusive education.

“The best thing about being a college student is the independence and the way that I can decide for my own life,” said Emma McGrath, one of the many students who attended the conference on Friday October 27th.

The ‘Learning Without Limits’ conference saw TCPID students and graduates join Minister Simon Harris, as well as staff from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Education and community supporters, to reflect on what a truly inclusive college experience looks like.

Based in Trinity’s School of Education, the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities has grown from a pilot project in 2004 to become a national and international leader in inclusive education.

Congratulating TCPID on its 20th year of promoting inclusive education, Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science of Ireland, said:

“It is wonderful to be celebrating TCPID’s ground breaking role in Irish inclusive education over the past two decades. The work everyone does in TCPID is invaluable. I am so heartened to hear of the incredible success stories of its graduates. I want to pay particular tribute to the Trinity Centre for creating such an inclusive space that fully recognises the rights of students with intellectual disabilities. Since 2004 TCPID has set the standard for what can be achieved when we break down barriers and offer equal educational opportunities for all.

“As Minister for Further and Higher Education my job is to make sure that no matter who you are, where you come from and no matter what your passion is, you can achieve it. Many students and families still feel that education is beyond their reach. I am so determined that everyone gets the opportunity they deserve when it comes to education.

“By establishing the Inclusive National Higher Education Forum, TCPID is fostering the development inclusive education courses in colleges and universities across Ireland. I am proud that my department has recently launched the ‘PATH 4 Phase 2’ – a three-year pilot to support an enhancement of course provision for students with intellectual disabilities, with a substantial investment of €9 million over the next three years. This is a crucial step toward ensuring that students with intellectual disabilities have access to high-quality education programmes similar to TCPID's Certificate in Arts, Science, and Inclusive Practice.”

A highlight of today’s event will be conversation salons hosted by TCPID students and graduates focusing on three themes – academic experience, college life experience, and pathways to opportunity after college.

Tomás Murphy, graduate and board member of Inclusion Ireland commented: “When you’re a graduate of Trinity you feel really positive. You can highlight the course, telling people about how great it is for people with intellectual disabilities to have the chance to come to college. More colleges should do this, and give people an opportunity.”

TCPID’s flagship course, the Certificate in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice, is a best-practice model of education that allows its students with intellectual disabilities to fulfil their potential through academic study, work placement and college life experience. Over 160 students have graduated from this course and its precursor the Certificate in Contemporary Living.

Professor Michael Shevlin, Director of the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities, School of Education, Trinity, explained:

“At the heart of our mission lie our incredible students and graduates. They continually astound us with their unwavering determination and limitless potential. In the past these remarkable students might have been segregated from society but we now witness them thriving within Trinity and onwards into employment with our business partners. In this journey we have learned that there aren't two separate worlds; there is just one world, and we can, and indeed should, all coexist harmoniously within it. Let this celebration remind us of the boundless possibilities that emerge when we break down barriers and foster inclusion for all."

“Today, as we gather to celebrate the remarkable journey of the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities, it's essential to recognise the pioneering spirit of individuals like PJ Drudy, Freida Finlay, Alan Crosbie, Mary Davis, and Patricia O'Brien, among others, whose tireless work in the early days, two decades ago, set the foundation for what we now proudly stand for. Their dedication and vision have been the guiding lights in our mission.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, which is supporting today’s event, added: “Through our Growth Fund we back the best social innovations that can scale their solutions to improve the lives of people across the country. TCPID have shown what can be done to create a truly inclusive education experience, and through the formation of the Inclusive National Higher Education Forum and their work shaping policy and practice, we believe we will achieve a future where young people with intellectual disabilities have the same education opportunities as anyone else.”

See the video below about the story of the TCPID.