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Trinity introduce reforms to Leaving Cert admission system

Trinity College has introduced a pioneering new system for admitting students into courses. The Daily Shift’s Grace Treston has the full story…

Trinity are now looking beyond the traditional CAO 'points' system

Trinity are now looking beyond the traditional CAO ‘points’ system

The current Irish system of admission into third-level institutes has been long criticised by both professional educators and the general public.

After years of vague suggested reform and small alterations to the system – bonus points for Higher Level Mathematics, for example – Trinity College in Dublin has taken a potentially vital step in beginning to reform the entire ‘points’ system, with the introduction of candidates’ personal statements. Data will also be analysed regarding the candidate’s performance in comparison to their peers.

The standard admission system as it stands for most universities, colleges, and institutes of technology, is as follows: each applicant is awarded up to 100 points from each of their six best Leaving Cert subjects. These points are then used by the Central Applications Office (CAO) to determine which student gains entry to their chosen third-level institute. For the majority of courses, excluding medicine and some other high-demand options, there is no national protocol in place to allow a student to personally express their suitability. Furthermore, there is not a way for the third-level institution to determine the personal aptitude of the candidate in their ability to be successful at their chosen course.

This has been known to cause unfair disadvantages to those who through social, economic, or health reasons, may not receive as many points as their more affluent counterparts.

Trinity College is the first to introduce a system of this kind for three of their courses: History, Law, and Ancient & Medieval History & Culture. The pilot system will be used in 2014 and 2015, and strictly monitored to discover its benefits.

The system will allocate 25 places for potential Trinity students who have missed the minimum points requirement by up to 100 points. Their Relative Performance Rank, which shows their ability in comparison to pupils in their own school, and Personal and Contextual Data, which is a short essay written by the candidate to show their own enthusiasm for the course, will be assessed thoroughly by the college.

The new selection method bears resemblance to Britain’s UCAS system, which allows for a personal statement by potential candidates to be assessed to help determine who deserves a college place.

This pioneering method of selection could set in motion the national reform of all universities and colleges, creating a fairer and more rational way of giving deserving students the opportunity of third-level education.

*Lead image courtesy of accessibleireland.com
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About Grace Treston

From Mayo, studying Media with German and Irish in NUI Maynooth

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