University chiefs back point race shake-up
RADICAL reform to take the heat out of the college entry points race is being backed by heads of universities.
The system would involve students taking generic first year courses in areas like arts, business or engineering, before moving on to more specialised choices in their second year.
The change will have no impact on points for the Leaving Cert class of 2013 and can only be introduced when the two-year cycle ends in 2014.
It is designed to take some of the pressure out of the points race making CAO points fall and courses more accessible to a wider range of students.
A working party representing the seven university presidents under NUI Maynooth's Dr Philip Nolan is ready to agree the change in the new year. It will also go to academic councils in each university for approval.
The number of college courses on offer through the CAO has increased three-fold in the past 20 years to more than 1,300 courses in over 45 colleges.
In some there are up to 20 specialised courses with only a small number of places which in turn drives up the number of points required for entry.
Pressure from Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has pushed the universities to accept the fact that the specialised courses have contributed to points pressure and there is a need for more broadly-based first-year courses.
The group has been examining the direct entry route into professional courses such as medicine where radical change appears to be less likely. It will be several months before it reports.