New courses provide pathway to a university degree for students who fell short in CAO race

Students who lost out in the CAO points race will still be able to pursue university degrees through a range of new third-level courses.

The significant reform of the third-level education system will see the introduction of new courses in the areas of business, technology, science and nursing.

These are intended to allow students to pursue their preferred career even if they do not secure the necessary Leaving Cert points.

The courses will begin in further education colleges before being completed in associated universities.

However, applicants will not have to rely on their Leaving Cert results to secure places on the new courses.

The initiative is part of a plan by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris to offer students different education pathways after they complete secondary school.

Mr Harris has placed a major emphasis on encouraging people to take up apprenticeships after they complete their ­second-level education.

He has also expanded the apprenticeship system to include courses in careers that are not traditionally provided to apprentices.

The new third-level degree courses will be open for applications this month and are scheduled to begin in September.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Harris stated that “the points race has caused significant pressure to young people all across this country”.

He added: “These courses are not a fall-back but they are another way of getting to where you want to get to.

“It is just the beginning. We will do more because we cannot continue to ignore the pressure on the shoulders of our young people when they fill out that CAO form.

“We have to change the conversation with youngsters to one of what they want to do, rather than one of points.”

The courses will be available in business, nursing, science, software development, immersive production media, music, and industrial laboratory science.

A new website has been set up and is scheduled to be launched this month.

This will allow students to apply for the degree courses. Additional courses will be added next year.

Mr Harris said that since taking office, he has “been determined” to provide lots of different pathways for people to progress in education outside of the traditional points system.

“We need further education colleges and universities working much more closely together,” he said.

“This will mean you begin the degree in further education and then complete it in a university.”

Mr Harris thanked the colleges and Education and Training Boards who have worked to develop the new degree courses.

He added: “I now intend to travel to all the regions to discuss how we can further grow this exciting project and learn from the pilots.

“I believe this can be transformational for our education system in shaking up the ­pathways and processes for entry into degree programmes.

“It has to be about choice and options.

“The Leaving Cert points system works for some but not for all.

“We need an education system that works for all with multiple pathways to progress. This is a real step forward.”

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