University spearheads new approach for all-island student mobility

Dec 07 2023 Posted: 11:40 GMT

University of Galway's President and Deputy President & Registrar have welcomed a new approach to make it easier for students from Northern Ireland to study in the Republic.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris T.D. has announced recommendations on A-level – Leaving Certificate equivalence have been accepted.

The proposals were put forward by a Universities Ireland Working Group chaired by University of Galway Deputy President and Registrar Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh.

Professor Ó Dochartaigh said: “Our intention in bringing together leadership from universities on the island, north and south, was to enhance cross-border mobility, in line with the aims of an Oireachtas report from 2022, the Government of Ireland Shared Island initiative and Minister Simon Harris’s own expressed intentions. 

“The new system offers a fairer system than before. It makes it easier for students from the north to come to the Republic to study, to learn and to experience our wonderful, energetic university communities. 

“Over time, these changes will do more, with the opportunities that we provide for young people, to create the bedrock for new relationships to be formed between schools in the north and universities here and between young people and their families from all counties on the island.”

President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, who is also President of Universities Ireland Council, said: “Universities Ireland seeks to promote and develop cooperation in the higher education on our island. I am delighted to have been chair of the association as this issue was explored and solutions developed. University of Galway has openness as one of its core values and it is an important day for our institution that we have played such a vital role in securing new opportunities for young people from all parts of our island. Huge credit goes to Professor Ó Dochartaigh for leading the work on the recommendations and all the members of the Universities Ireland Working Group who helped in the development of the new system. We look forward now to implementing the proposals as soon as possible.”

New arrangements for A-level – Leaving Certificate equivalence for the CAO announced by Minister Harris

  • It will no longer be necessary to take 4 A-levels (one of which must be Maths) in order to achieve maximum points (625) under the Republic’s system for third level entry – the Central Applications Office (CAO).
  • NI students can use their best 3 A-levels, along with 4th A-level or an Extended Project or an AS subject. This will mean that applicants can attain a score of 600 points with 3 A-levels and 1 AS, and 625 points if one of the A Levels is Maths
  • NI students will also be considered for a place in an Irish university by applying with 2 A-levels and 1 or 2 AS levels.

 The report of recommendations from the Universities Ireland Working Group noted that only 0.6% of students in higher education in the Republic come from Northern Ireland, while in the north, 2.4% of students come from the Republic. 

It also noted that only 3% of A-level students in the north take four subjects at A-level.


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