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Education minister says the CAO system needs to change

Ruairi Quinn says that radical new approaches and more complex entry routes to third level education are needed. He says it is a priority for his department.

The entry system based on exam results and 'points' looks set to change
The entry system based on exam results and 'points' looks set to change
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Education Ruairi Quinn has said that changes should be made to the CAO system to reflect changes in the profile of school leavers and to cater for a “more diverse cohort of students”.

The minister made the comments in an address to the Royal Irish Academy entitled “Delivering the Strategy for Higher Education”.

Quinn said that the education system will see a huge growth in demand – at least 72 per cent – over the next 20 years, and that learning needs to become more flexible in order to accommodate the changing needs of the economy and to promote “lifelong learning”.

The minister said that changes to the CAO sytem will be given prority, in order to change it from one which caters for the needs of full-time students to one which allows for part-time and work-based learning. He also said that prior qualifications and experience should be taken into consideration and that entry routes into third level education need to become more complex.

We need to be prepared to think in terms of radically new approaches and alternatives to the current arrangements.

The adverse impact of the “points” system on an student’s second-level experience was also highlighted by Quinn, who said the pressure put on students and teachers must be taken into consideration.

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Emer McLysaght

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