Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris launched a historic change in third-level education to ensure undergraduate students, for the first time, can earn a university degree outside the points system.
From September students will be able to enrol in one of 23 degree courses across healthcare, enterprise, ICT and creative sectors in a further education institution before progressing to a higher education institution to complete their fully-accredited degree.
These programmes represent an important new departure in flexible provision and will provide pathways to learners outside the traditional CAO process.
Speaking about the changes, Minister Harris said, “this is the single biggest transformation to education in decades. We launch 23 degree courses outside the points system. We know the points system has not worked for many of our young people. We can tell the next generation of students they can access degrees in nursing, business, engineering and media without ever having to worry about points. This is the start. We have much more to do but today, we change the system and ensure the learner is at the heart of all we do.”
“My Department and I have made it a priority to change the unnecessarily stressful points race that the CAO system puts on our learners. I feel strongly that just because someone gets less points in their Leaving Cert than someone else, does not mean they should lose out on the opportunity to pursue their dream career. With the launch of these courses, we are making a significant change to how our third level system works and, most importantly, we are creating a more inclusive society in which students will have the opportunity to reach their potential without relying solely on an outdated system.”
Information about the 14 tertiary education awards, across 23 different courses, will be delivered on a new National Tertiary Office (NTO) online portal.
Director of the National Tertiary Office, Dr Fiona Maloney said, “these new and supported pathways through further and higher education help students achieve their career goals and offer several advantages including local availability of courses with guaranteed progression and the removal of geographical and financial barriers.”
Nessa White, Executive Director of Transformation in SOLAS added, “we celebrate a great start to the tertiary journey, which simply wouldn’t have happened without all the partners involved. This is about a new and different FET offering which expands the options available to FET students and shows strong collaboration between FET and HE providers.”
Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the Higher Education Authority said, “the launch of the first tertiary degree programmes is a pivotal day for students who for the first time have an alternative route to a degree programme outside of the CAO points system. It is a proud day for the HEA and SOLAS because from the outset we believed, through the combined efforts of our sectors that these pathways could and should exist for students.”