Maynooth University to halve number of college entry routes

Joint arts and science degree will be the first of its type in Ireland

NUI Maynooth: Aims to give school-leavers more flexibility in their study options

NUI Maynooth: Aims to give school-leavers more flexibility in their study options


Maynooth University plans to halve the number of entry routes it lists on the CAO by September 2016 in a bid to give school-leavers more flexibility in their study options.

The university says it will also become the first college in Ireland to offer a joint arts and science degree as part of a major revamping of its undergraduate curriculum.

Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan welcomed the reforms. Along with her predecessor, Ruairí Quinn, she had been urging colleges to introduce broader entry routes for students. This was aimed at simplifying the CAO process and allowing students to specialise later in higher education.

Under its plan, to be phased in over the next 18 months, Maynooth University says it will reduce the number of course entry routes from 50 at present to less than 25.

Its president, Prof Philip Nolan, had previously signalled such a move when criticising the proliferation of courses on the CAO with a small intake of students.

The colleges have admitted such courses were designed to inflate entry points on the CAO and have agreed to cut their number under an Irish Universities Association taskforce plan. University College Dublin has already cut the number of course codes it lists on the CAO from 56 to 45, and other colleges are now under pressure to do likewise.

Betty McLaughlin, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, said: “A huge fallacy that has been allowed to perpetuate in Ireland is that higher points courses are in some way more prestigious. This is largely nonsense and has heaped unnecessary strain on young people for generations.”

She said Maynooth was moving towards “a fair, simplified” entry route. “All guidance counsellors nationwide enthusiastically support this and would urge all other universities to follow suit.”

One of Maynooth’s biggest innovations is a combined arts and science entry route that will allow students to choose modules from each discipline with a view to doing either a twinned degree, the first of its type in Ireland, or else a BA or a BSc.

This would depend on whether students graduated with a “double major” – one each from arts and science –- or a major in one discipline and a minor in the other.