Essays and TCD entrance requirements

 Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill


Sir, – The Minister for Education speaks of the need to legislate to stamp out cheating by the use of ” essay mills ” that sell essays on demand (“Bruton outlines bill to tackle cheating in education system”, May 15th). Trinity College Dublin does not share the Minister’s concern. Trinity admit students to study law, of all things, on the basis of an essay whose author is unknown.

Incredibly, Trinity use the essay as a qualifier.

In other words, the essay alone determines whether a student progresses.

If she fails to “qualify” on her essay, her application fails and ends there; even if she goes on to get 600 points. Her Leaving Certificate results are completely ignored and not even looked at!

There is no appeal if she fails to “qualify” and Trinity refuse to say how she “qualifies” or fails.

Trinity believes that two years of hard work for the Leaving Certificate is worth less than an essay which might have been bought from an “essay mill” such as the Minister is concerned about.

Trinity is quite prepared to accept State funding but does not accept the value of the State exam.

Two years ago, its own internal review of the practice told Trinity that reliance on an essay was useless, especially when it does not know who wrote it. But Trinity refuse to face that basic fact, a strange disorder for a prominent university.

Surely facts should be the norm in any university’s decision-making processes?

In 2017 Trinity continues with this futile charade, at the expense of young people who are about to start their exams in the next few weeks. It seems that there is nobody in Trinity with the moral courage to end it.

Does the Minister have an opinion on Trinity’s provision of opportunities for the essay mills, at the expense of the State’s national examination? – Yours, etc,


(Former CAO general



Co Cork.