Ask Brian: Will I get an exemption from Irish for the Leaving Cert?
New data-sharing rules mean students must ensure the CAO is aware of Irish exemptions
The NUI now needs an applicant’s express permission to share their data with NUI, so it can update the applicant’s CAO record to include details of an NUI exemption. Photograph: Peter Thursfield
Question: I have sought an exemption from having to pass Irish from the National University of Ireland (NUI). However, I’m told could be problems processing this due to new data-sharing rules. Where do I stand?
Answer: As you know, passing Irish is a requirement for entry to degrees in NUI universities – UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and Maynooth University, as well as associated colleges – subject to certain exemptions.
These include being born or educated outside the State or having a condition such as dyslexia.
Up to the current academic year it was sufficient for an applicant to the CAO, who wished to secure an exemption in Irish and or another language, to submit an application available on the NUI website by post to the NUI offices in Dublin.
If the NUI deemed the applicant met the terms to secure an exemption, it accessed the applicant’s record in the CAO system, amended it to record the exemption and advised the applicant accordingly.
However, under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regime which comes into force in May 2018, the CAO office in Galway cannot allow the NUI to access this data.
They now need an applicant’s express permission to share their data with NUI, so it can update the applicant’s CAO record to include details of an NUI exemption.
This required ticking a box on the CAO application form. While NUI has received data on almost 4,000 students from CAO, I’m told that a further 500 or so students have not ticked the box to give the necessary permission to CAO.
These students are now at risk of not receiving a degree offers as a result – even if they have secured the entry points requirements for a higher preference in an NUI college.
To rectify this situation, an applicant will need to return to their CAO application form online, complete the “exemptions from minimum entry requirements” section.
Once they access their record online, applicants will see a prompt stating: “modify NUI exemption status”. This will lead them to a section where they can tick the box for “I would like CAO to provide my details to the NUI”.
NUI is urging applicants who have not done this to do as a matter of urgency or risk serious consequences.
If applicants do not do this, the CAO will have no record of their NUI exemption and they risk not receiving an offer of a college place.
An alternative is to make the CAO aware of the fact you secured a NUI exemptions is by sending the letter granting you an exemption received from NUI directly onto the CAO by registered post.
As in all matters pertaining to a student’s application to CAO, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure this information has been correctly recorded on their CAO record.