There are numerous barriers to third level education, all of which are well documented. While several initiatives are taking place locally indicating a range of responses from community education to further education to third level, a number of gaps remain which continue to contribute to educational inequality in Ireland. A number of issues warrant attention; the need to move beyond a ‘deficit model of disadvantage’; to address educational inequality in a framework that challenges the language of disadvantage; the need to recognise the complexities and range of supports required to tackle educational inequality; and the need for more collaborative and interactive consultation processes in representing communities that are persistently marginalised. The aim of this article is to address a number of the above issues and to document some emergent themes from research currently being undertaken within Cork city. The research is being conducted through the Strategic Innovation Fund ‘Connections Project’ at UCC with a focus on adult non-traditional learners. It is one of four strands of the project. The research findings to date reflect the view of recent literature pointing to the need to open up the debate on the value of community education.