Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 515–536 | Cite as

The Impact of Proposed Higher Education Reforms on Geographic Accessibility to Universities in Ireland

  • Sharon WalshEmail author
  • John Cullinan
  • Darragh Flannery


The pursuit of equity in access to higher education is central to education policy in most developed countries. Although much of the focus has been on narrowing the social class differential in higher education participation, spatial factors have been increasingly acknowledged as a potential barrier to access and subsequent participation. This article explores geographic accessibility to university education in Ireland using a variety of techniques and measures, paying particular attention to analysing the effect of proposed higher education policy reforms. In particular, we utilise GIS-based methodologies to model the impact of the proposed reforms on both the level of, and inequalities in, geographic accessibility to university education in Ireland. This includes mapping and analysing a range of accessibility measures, as well as calculating spatially-based university accessibility Gini indices. We also illustrate how the techniques and analysis can be used to help inform higher education policy.


Higher education reform Geographic accessibility Geographic inequality Universities Ireland 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This work was supported by the National University of Ireland, Galway Hardiman Research Scholarship. The funder had no role in the design of the study; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the paper; or the decision to submit the paper for publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Discipline of Economics, School of Business & EconomicsNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland
  2. 2.Department of Economics, Kemmy Business SchoolUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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