AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


AHEAD are Hiring: Research and Project Officer – Postgraduate Focus

Job Title: Research and Project Officer – Postgraduate Focus

Reports to: Chief Executive Officer as part of the Research and Policy Team

Duration: This position is offered on a 3-year basis commencing as soon as possible and is subject to continued funding.

Location: AHEAD offices are located within the UCD Smurfit Business School campus in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, however this position is remote-first whereby the successful candidate will work the majority of the time remotely from Ireland with only occasional trips to the office and/or other locations as per operational needs.

Hours: The successful candidate will work part time 4 days per week (7 hours per day excluding flexible lunch break). The spread of days is negotiable with flexible start times on agreement between 08:00 and 10:00. Occasional weekend/evening work may be required for out of hours events and meetings.

Deadline for Application: 10am, Monday 11th March 2024


AHEAD, established in 1988, is a non-profit organisation working on creating inclusive environments in education and employment for people with disabilities. You can find more about what we do by watching this short video.

You can also read AHEAD’s Strategic Plan 2019 – 2022 where you will find our values and strategic themes which help it to achieve its mission of working with and for disabled people to shape inclusive and empowering environments in tertiary education and employment. We will shortly launch our new strategic plan 2024-2028 which places primary importance on the lived experience of disabled people.

If you are interested in our organisational culture, check out our team charter which describes how we seek to work together on our best days - AHEAD Team Charter.

 Nature and Scope


The Research and Project Officer – Postgraduate Focus will coordinate a 3-year HEA funded project to support the representation of disabled postgraduates and early career researchers in higher education in Ireland. This project will be delivered by AHEAD in partnership with the National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee (NDPAC). The Research and Project Officer will operate as part of the Research and Policy Team in AHEAD and report directly to the CEO. As well as coordinating the aforementioned project, the successful candidate will be occasionally required to support research and policy activities in other areas.

While representing AHEAD on this project, they will be required to liaise with and take guidance from a Project Oversight Group, made up of representatives from AHEAD and NDPAC.

Key responsibilities will include organising online and occasional in-person events related to the project, working with disabled postgraduates to create useful online resources for the community, researching the lived experience of disabled postgraduates in partnership with NDPAC, and engaging key national stakeholders to disseminate findings and advance policy objectives. They will also play a vital role in developing partnership activities between AHEAD and the postgraduate student body and support the building of a disabled postgraduate community in partnership with NDPAC.

 Key Responsibilities

Project Management

  • Develop and implement annual project plans to deliver on the original 3-year project proposal.
  • Coordinate delivery of all aspects of the aforementioned 3-year HEA funded project.
  • Develop a strong working relationship with the AHEAD/NDPAC Partnership Oversight Group to ensure effective and efficient delivery of the project plan.
  • Produce regular reports for the CEO, the board and funders of AHEAD on the progress of the project and evaluate project outcomes.

Events & Communications

  • Work with the Partnership Oversight Group to plan and deliver a range of accessible annual online and occasional in-person events to support the delivery of the project e.g. community building and information events for disabled postgraduates.
  • Disseminate the work of the project and communicate events and outputs widely to different target audiences, working in tandem with AHEAD’s communications team and NDPAC.
  • Work with the Partnership Oversight Group and AHEAD’s communications team to develop an online presence for the partnership activities, containing tips for postgraduates, outputs from the project and information about upcoming events.

Research and Advocacy

  • Coordinate and undertake a range of AHEAD research and advocacy activities in the area of postgraduate access, e.g. the development of evidence-informed discussion papers and a policy mapping exercise to explore barriers and enablers of progression to and success in postgraduate participation for students with disabilities.
  • Engage in research and consultation activities using a variety of methodologies (surveys, focus groups, etc.) that generate data and recommendations to inform the project outputs.
  • Coordinate participation of disabled postgraduates in external stakeholder events to advocate for changes to policy and practice that support greater representation of disabled people in postgraduate study and early career research.
  • Work with the wider AHEAD team and the Partnership Oversight Group to build relationships with state agencies and government departments concerning postgraduate access in order to positively influence national policy.
  • Represent AHEAD in a variety of external contexts as required, both at local, national, and international level and ensure the reputation of AHEAD is upheld in any representations with stakeholders.

Other Key Activities

  • Collaborate with other members of the Research and Policy Team as appropriate and reasonable, to contribute to the delivery of the goals/projects of the wider Research and Policy Team.
  • Participate in regular staff and team meetings, updating staff on work conducted and keeping them informed of legislative and policy developments.
  • Undertake other duties as may reasonably be assigned by the CEO.

 Person Specification

The Research and Project Officer must be a self-directed individual, capable of working on their own initiative and have a commitment to promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in education and employment in line with AHEAD’s values.

Required Experience & Skills

  • Strong project management and organisational skills.
  • Master level qualification in social policy, social science, human rights, public policy, or any other relevant discipline.
  • A very strong ‘team player’ ethic and willingness to help with day-to-day activities and work to support the team and other AHEAD staff during busy periods.
  • Demonstrable experience in coordinating and undertaking significant research projects, and ability to practically apply research findings.
  • Demonstrable experience in a previous role of writing for a variety of contexts and target audiences. E.g., detailed research reports, producing policy submissions, guidelines, internal reporting etc.
  • Proven ability to influence and manage relationships with a broad range of stakeholders.
  • Ability to communicate messages effectively in a variety of contexts, e.g. at national policy meetings, presenting findings at events and facilitating consultation meetings.
  • Demonstrable background in/understanding of issues concerning inclusion of postgraduate students with disabilities in education, and/or understanding of higher education systems and structures.
  • Demonstrated experience of strong ICT skills including use of excel for data analysis, word processing, formatting, PowerPoint creation, graph creation.

Desirable Experience & Skills

  • Previous experience of working in a similar role.
  • Experience of working in the community and voluntary sector and/or in an area related to AHEAD’s work.
  • Experience being involved in the management of events or workshops.

Salary and Additional Benefits

The salary range for this position is €38,315 to €41,768 pro rata (€30,652 to €33,414) commensurate with AHEAD’s pay scale and experience.

AHEAD also offers the following benefits to all employees.

  • Rewarding and flexible working environment
  • Hybrid working and flexi-time
  • Comprehensive needs assessment for employees with disabilities
  • 25 days annual leave per annum (pro-rata)
  • Company pension scheme after successfully completing probation.
  • Access to EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) covering a range of services such as nutrition, fitness, legal, financial and wellbeing supports in addition to free mental health counselling and coaching.

How to Apply

To apply for this role, please send complete a fully completed application form with a 2-page CV with the subject line, ‘Research and Project Officer’ to Angela Glancy angela.glancy@ahead.ie, by 10am, Monday 11th March 2024.

Please note, candidates will be shortlisted based on their application form only.

For shortlisted candidates, first round interviews will take place virtually the week commencing 25th March followed by a second-round interview. 

AHEAD is an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from people from diverse backgrounds. AHEAD will provide reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities at recruitment stage and in the workplace as identified through our comprehensive needs assessment process.

Download the Job Specification

Download the Application Form

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Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

East Hall, UCD, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.
T +353 1 592 1467 E ahead@ahead.ie W www.ahead.ie RCN 20025182