The Long Room at Trinity College Library. The college hopes to operate a pilot scheme as a limited alternative to CAO entry in 2014. Julien Behal/PA Archive
Points Race

Trinity scheme to offer college places to students below CAO minimum

A pilot programme – intended to begin with Law in 2014 – will see some places reserved for students measured on alternative grounds.

TRINITY COLLEGE is to bring forward proposals for a pilot scheme which would see up to 20 per cent of the places on its college courses offered to students who did not necessarily meet the CAO points requirements.

The university is to trial a programme within its Law course, beginning in 2014, which would see a proportion of places reserved for applicants who are considered in alternative ways to the straightforward points race.

Trinity’s dean of undergraduate studies, Dr Patrick Geoghegan, told RTÉ’s News at One that the trial would see students appraised based on “contextual data” including personal statements from teachers and guidance counsellors.

Having a student from a disadvantaged school get 450 points in the Leaving, Geoghegan suggested, may be “more of an achievement than a student who gets 550 points from an elite fee-paying school”.

“This allows us to match the right students to the right courses, and that’s such an important factor in today’s world,” Geoghegan said, saying the idea had been fleshed out at an international conference hosted by Trinity earlier this year.

The trial would see Trinity “taking a more holistic approach” to admissions, Geoghegan said, and following international models of basing college admissions on factors other than their end-of-school exam results.

It is hoped for the pilot programme to be approved by November so that details can be confirmed early in the coming school year. Having the experiment begin in 2014 means it will only affect students going into Fifth Year this year, and not those sitting their Leaving in 2013.

University College Dublin already operates a similar system, New ERA, though on a smaller scale. That programme sees students from disadvantaged schools offered a ‘points remission’ where the entry criteria for a selected number of high-points courses are relaxed.

Poll: Should more than just points be considered for entry to college courses?

Read: Over 21,000 CAO offers accepted online on first day

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