Five significant changes that will be of interest to students applying for college places this year are highlighted by Guidance Counsellor Aoife Walsh in today's Irish Independent:
TCD Feasibility Study
This is the second year of this study, testing an alternative entry route to college for students who demonstrate a passion and academic ability for a subject, but who may not achieve the necessary CAO points.
Under the project, 10 places are made available in Law (TR004), 10 places in History (TR008) and five places in Ancient and Medieval History and Culture (TR028) for students who opt to be considered for entry using this route.
Last year there were 270 applications for those 25 places. As part of the study, students are assessed for their suitability to study in their chosen area in a more holistic way, which Trinity measures in three scales:
- Leaving Cert results;
- How a student performed in the Leaving Certificate compared with other students in their school;
- A personal statement where the student outlines their interest in the subject area and any personal circumstances which may have affected their ability to reach their potential.
The anonymity of the applicant is preserved as there are no interviews. Applicants interested in using this route for any of the three courses apply in the normal way through the CAO and they are also invited to either opt-in or opt-out of the feasibility study. The full guide is available from tcd.ie/undergraduate-studies/. The 10 students offered places in History were up to 150 points short of the CAO cut-off, while the 10 students offered places in Law were up to 70 points short of the cut-off.
Application Details for the scheme are available here
Common Entry Courses
A clear trend in the CAO this year is the reduction in the amount of courses which require applicants to choose a specialisation at the time of application in favour of broad-based entry routes. In one example, University College Cork (UCC) has replaced four engineering degrees with one common entry course CK600 Engineering.
These courses allow applicants to choose their specialisations later. This can be very helpful for many students who find it difficult to make such specific decisions during Leaving Cert year. This model also allows students who are sure of their specialisations the opportunity to try out different areas and develop a broader knowledge base.
Teacher training colleges
The Government has moved towards amalgamating the teacher-training colleges with their awarding universities. As a result, applicants will not see Mater Dei or St Patrick's College Drumcondra listed on the CAO for entry in 2015.
However, their courses are still available but this year they are listed under Dublin City University (DCU), with new course codes. They are clearly identified in the CAO handbook and will be taught from the Mater Dei and St Patrick's campuses. The final qualification will continue to be awarded by DCU.
Five-year degrees, including master's
First seen a number of years ago with the introduction of a five-year combined degree and master's in engineering, this year we see pharmacy and home economics education courses following suit.
All pharmacy courses are changing from a four-year degree with a one-year internship, to a five-year combined degree and master's programme with work placement throughout. This structure will have a number of benefits for participating students including more opportunity for varied work practice, to enter industry and work abroad.
However, applicants should also be aware they may be liable for post-graduate fees during their final year.
Similarly, Home Economics Education at St Angela's College, Sligo is moving to a five-year programme, including a master's in order to meet Teaching Council requirements. Students will be liable for postgraduate fees for their final year.
Applicants should be aware that while they may exit the course with a level 8 degree after four years, they will not be recognised by the Teaching Council unless they continue to master's level.
Maynooth University is expanding its opportunities for students to take a language, irrespective of what course they are pursuing.
Its existing Language For All Students programme enables students to take an extra module in a modern European language for extra credits.
In a new development for September 2015, students may now choose to take a language in second year as part of their standard degree programme, with 10 credits available for it. The initiative is not restricted to languages.
The CareersPortal Team