Students in Northern Ireland are entitled to apply for coursessthrough the CAO but are often unaware this is an option. Photograph: iStock

NI residents may apply – though how these rights will be affected by Brexit is unclear

Apprenticeships, or “earn and learn” options, offer a valuable alternative to college. Photo: iStock

Modern apprenticeships offer a valuable alternative route to higher level qualifications

The only explanation for schools who consistently seem to perform at over the 100 per cent participation rate in CAO college courses is that some of their students are being counted twice. Photograph: iStock

Schools with dramatically falling numbers can have grossly inflated progression rates

The fact that 16 per cent of school-leavers do not apply for a CAO college place is not an indication of failure. They may be planning to pursue a further-education course, which is more appropriate to their career goals. Photograph: iStock

School figures also account for all students who sat the Leaving Cert in previous years

The proportion of school leavers heading to college is now edging towards 60 per cent. Photograph: iStock

State’s exceptionally high college-going rates vary dramatically depending on social class

The good news is that all the information about college courses is out there if you know where to look. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: I can’t find a third-level course in the area I’m interested in. Can you help?

Many schools will continue to ignore their role as data controller in the cases of adult students taking the Leaving Cert.  Photograph: iStock

Schools are ignoring obligation to seek students’ consent before sharing data

Choosing the right college course doesn’t have to an anxious and stressful process. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Students don’t have to choose careers – just courses that match their interests, aptitudes and abilities

Erasmus placements are particularly helpful for improving foreign language skills. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Erasmus placements boost language skills and job opportunities

UCD has allowed students with upgrades to be accepted on to courses after September 30th this year on an “exceptional basis”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Ask Brian: He can move to a higher preference after an upgrade – if there are spaces

There are no more powerful institutions in Ireland than the school management bodies and our teachers’ union. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Legislation for grievance procedures was never enacted – but new law should help

Don’t be despondent in any way that reducing his subjects at this stage will limit his choices in the future. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: The move from first to second year can be a big step up for some students

When exploring college options, be aware that the content of the course is only a small part of what you will experience when you arrive on registration day. Photograph: iStock

Open days give you a great chance to gauge how good a fit your course and college choice will be

The campus environment can be a deciding factor for students. Photograph: iStock

What you need to know to make sure you take full advantage of your open day opportunity

Many Irish students face the dilemma of staying at home or going abroad to study for their undergraduate courses. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Several thousand Irish students are studying at EU universities

Brexit costs: the effect of the UK’s departure from the EU is an issue for Irish students contemplating submitting Ucas applications. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Existing fees are set to remain in place for the 2019-20 academic year

“School refusal” is an issue confronting parents and schools right across the country. Photo: iStock

Ask Brian: Parents face daily battles to protect their children from compulsive gaming

Rebecca Carter: Judge Richard Humphreys found the State Examination Commission was highly unfair in procesing her appeal. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Exams body should implement changes and not appeal Rebecca Carter judgment

There are so many options for postgraduate study and research in the USA, with over 1,700 universities offering postgraduate degrees. Photo: iStock

There are lots of options – but costs are steep, so be sure to do your research

It’s best not to make any rash decisions. Photograph: iStock

The first month of college can be challenging for anyone starting third-level

Arts and humanities degrees are among the most popular third-level courses, with more than 25 per cent of students, studying these programmes. Photo: iStock

Arts graduates have excellent skills to meet needs of changing workplaces

Higher Options has the potential to be the most valuable six hours you will be able to spend this year in exploring your future options. Photograph: Alan Betson
Plan ahead to get ahead

Value of Higher Options to school-leavers depends entirely on level of preparation ahead of RDS event

The offers of places in medicine is different to all other CAO programmes. Photo: iStock

The offers of places in medicine is different to all other CAO programmes

Photograph: Getty

Analysis: Five take-aways from this year’s available college places

Financial contributions may  be sought from parents only on the basis that a child’s place in a school is not dependant on making a contribution. Photo: iStock

Teachers should have no knowledge or interest in these financial matters

Life in college and the academic demands it places on you are different to secondary school. You’re now in charge of your own learning.

What you should know ahead of the three viewing sessions for rechecking exams

Susi provides means-tested grants for further education, higher education, postgraduate studies

Up to 40% of new students are entitled to grants to help cushion college costs

Unfilled college places are due to come onstream for those with unsatisfactory offers

Some of those had hoped to study arts in UCD and had CAO points in the 340-380 range but missed out due to an unexpected jump of about 50 points.

Exam candidates can take photos of their exam scripts for the first time

In many of our fellow continental EU partner countries, such practical hands-on courses are seen to be as of equal status as those offered by third-level colleges

Practical, hands-on courses offer career progression and skills enhancement outside traditional CAO system

In business – another area with strong projected job growth – points remains strong and steady.

Students shy away from arts and head for job-ready engineering, science and construction

Whichever course students accept in the first round will have no effect on their entitlement to accept an offer of a course higher up on their two lists if it becomes available in a later round. Photograph: iStock

Prospective students have until Friday, August 24th, to accept their first-round offer of a college place

 Photograph: iStockphoto

Progression to college directly from school is not the only route

An alternative option for students who have failed to meet entry requirements for their chosen courses may be to apply to their local further education (FE) college. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

College Choice: Students have range of options if they missed entry requirements

The percentage of students studying maths at  higher level was  31.5% in 2018,   up from 30%   last year

Change in grading system contributes to increasing popularity of higher level subjects

If you are unhappy with a particular grade in any subject in the Leaving Cert, or if there is an identifiable error in the results you got today, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will give you whatever supports you need to rectify the problem. Photograph: iStock

If you feel you should have done better, you can view your script to decide if it’s worth having it rechecked

Take a few minutes away from the excitement and carefully calculate your CAO points score. Photograph: iStock

First-round CAO offers for college places will be made on Monday, August 20th. What can you expect to happen next, and how do you (...)

Colleges, conscious that Leaving Cert students have been absorbed in their exams for the past month, are open to talking to and meeting potential applicants. Photo: iStock

All colleges ready to deal with last-minute queries from applicants

Once you receive your paper, read it carefully and fully before you do anything else. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

An exam survival guide for Junior and Leaving Cert students (and parents)

Fees for international non-EU students are expensive, though still cheaper than in several other jurisdictions. Photo: iStock

Rising numbers of non-Irish students are studying in Ireland – but it can be costly

Ireland currently has the second-highest fees – in the form of a €3,000 registration charge or fees of €8-€10,000 at postgrad level – for higher education in the EU. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Plan for loans are dead in the water – awaiting a decent burial

Leaving Cert results are out on Wednesday August 15th. Photograph: iStock

Timeline for the remainder of the 2018 college application process

Decision time: It’s time to make your final CAO choices, but remember, you are  not selecting an occupation for the rest of your life. You are just choosing areas of academic study that you would enjoy over the next three or four years.

It’s time to review your CAO application so here’s how to get your course choice right

Completing a third-level degree isn’t the only way to launch a successful career

Choosing the right course involves a lot of research, but it’s well worth the effort.

Here’s how to go about choosing the best course and the right college for you

If exam stress gets too much, it can often be best to get out of the hall into the open air for two or three minutes. Photo: iStock

Simple techniques can help minimise exam stress

Focus on your exams for now – career choices can wait until the end of June. Photograph: iStock

Don’t rush into a course which doesn’t excite you – there is plenty of time to decide

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

New data-sharing rules mean students must ensure the CAO is aware of Irish exemptions

Several universities offer global business degree programmes in partnership with universities in other countries that allow students to spend time studying abroad. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

One in every seven 2018 CAO applicants for a level 8 degree lists a business course as their first option

State authorities will need to examine holding exams on Saturdays. Photo: iStock

Students should not be expected to sit three Leaving Cert written papers in a single day

Not so long ago most first years in college were under 18. Today, that has fallen to just  a quarter. Photo: iStock

Some younger students may not be ready for the demands of third-level

Schools have discretion to determine whether  transition year is compulsory for pupils or not. Photograph: iStock

Schools have discretion to determine whether TY is compulsory or not

Members of the TUI and the ASTI picketing during a recent strike. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Benefits differ in specific details, which could be significant over a lifetime

In no other profession are graduates asked to deliver a service unpaid for two years, while paying fees of more than €12,000 while they do so. Photograph: iStock

Urgent action is needed to address the single biggest threat to the quality of our children’s education

Veterinary medicine in UCD is the only provider of veterinary education on the island of Ireland. Photo: iStock

Lack of subject choice is a deep unfairness of the secondary system

A professional qualification to fly as a commercial pilot can cost up to €100,000. Photo: iStock

Courses are hugely expensive, though there are ways of cushioning costs

Anxiety ahead of an exam is normal, so intensify your prepartion over the coming weeks. Photo: iStock

Anxiety is normal. Intensify your preparation over the coming weeks

Research is key to establishing what course is the correct one for you. Photograph: iStockphoto

Ensuring that your course of choice has credibility in the labour market a big challenge

In addition to sector-specific skills, transversal and cross-sectoral employability skills are increasingly being sought by employers. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

Increasing convergence across almost all sectors of the economy leading to greater job mobility

International and local research shows that higher levels of education increase employability as well as salary. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

Rapidly improving economy offers wide array of options for college graduates

Transition year can be of immense benefit to students’ growth and development. Photo: iStock

This academic interlude is of immense benefit to students’ growth and development

Eighteen years olds  are adults in the eyes of the law. Photo: iStock

18 year olds are entitled to be treated as adults by schools

Parents may make complaints over teachers to the Teaching Council, the Department of Education or the Ombudsman for  Education. Photo: iStock

Ask Brian: There are a number of options available once you’ve exhausted all avenues in school

There will always be substitute work available as a primary school teacher, given the need to cover maternity leaves, normal sickness and career breaks. Photograph: iStock

Teaching posts may become harder to secure in future as numbers are projected to fall

The Teaching Council is not there to support or encourage aspiring graduates into teaching. Photo: iStock

There is a real lack of support available to encourage graduates into teaching

 Most parents who can afford the voluntary contribution  pay it, and those who can’t do not. Photo: iStock

I am concerned that my decision will affect the school’s attitude to my son

This year, instead of a single catch-all programme, UCD is offering six new programmes: three are BA degrees and three are BSc (Bachelor of Science) degrees. Photograph: Getty Images

Big changes in some arts, humanities and social science degrees

School-leavers face more than 1,000 course options in the CAO system. Photograph: iStock

School-leavers are confronted with a dizzying array of choices for further study

Grants: you can apply through the Susi website ( There is an “eligibility reckoner” on the home page to give you an idea of whether you might be eligible for a grant.  Photograph: iStock

More than 40% of students in higher education receive grants of various types

The Dare scheme has moved away from the exclusive use of medical criteria towards a holistic one. Photograph: iStockphoto

Supports available for applicants with a disability or from disadvantaged backgrounds

If you wish to apply for a specific course, your informal learning over your lifetime will be given due recognition within the adult education system. Photo: iStock

Your local Education and Training Board is a great place to get advice on what’s available

More than 2,000 Irish students are currently studying in some of Europe’s premier universities. Photograph: iStock

Almost half of first year in veterinary science in Warsaw and Budapest are Irish

There has been an increase in the number of new apprenticeships offered to students across a wide range of industry sectors in recent years. Photograph: iStock

Post-Leaving Cert courses, apprenticeships are a valuable alternative to the CAO

Thousands of students drop out of college each year, having made the wrong course choice. Photo: iStock

Thousands of students each year drop out of college after making decisions under exam pressure

Timeline for the 2018 college application process

Consider the evidence - decide what criteria you should factor into your decision. Photograph: iStockphoto.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge of choosing what to do after you leave school

The Leaving Cert will take place from June 6th to 22nd. And the following week is important for considering CAO change-of-mind options. File Photograph: Getty Images

Ask Brian: Under-pressure students likely to need support in the second half of August

Most universities  offer some part-time options, but they may not always lead to a full degree award. Photo: iStock

There are options, though part-time access to mainstream degrees can be limited

Securing a sports scholarship can be a complicated process. File photograph: Getty Images

Ask Brian Mooney: It is a good idea to reach out to Irish student athletes based in America

It is imperative candidates list their choices in the order that they desire them. Photograph: iStockphoto

Education expert Brian Mooney goes through the steps you need to take to make a final decision on your course preferences

Most experts agree that we are only beginning to see the recovery in the construction of domestic housing and apartment market. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There are a multitude of career options in sector that is expanding again

Schools with a reduction in 2017 class size creates a statistical aberration – they have what seem to be high progression percentage rates precisely because their Leaving Cert student numbers are declining

Schools with significantly falling numbers can have grossly inflated progression rates

Interestingly, more than 21 per cent of the successful students holding medical cards who achieved close to 600 CAO points are new Irish, born throughout the four corners of the planet

Percentage progression rates do not solely reflect success of this year’s Leaving Cert class

College progression rates are lower in more disadvantaged areas of Dublin such as Ballyfermot, Finglas and Clondalkin compared with wealthier parts of the city.

Figures illustrate socio-economic inequality in progression rates to college and university

There is an acute shortage of qualified teachers in a number of subject areas, including STEM and modern languages. Photo: iStock

The Teaching Council spells out the qualifcations required to teach in key areas

There are excellent career and study options available to every school leaver, no matter what grades they achieve. Photo: iStock

Ask Brian: Try easing the pressure by emphasising the range of options she has

Do not sign off on any impact statement from your son’s school unless it clearly states the supports he has received in secondary education. Photograph: iStock

Reduced points are available for students with learning challenges – but be sure prepare your application well

The overall UCD arts and humanities and social sciences offering has been re-imagined and now includes study-abroad opportunities and internships to better equip graduates for the rapidly-evolving job market.

Applicants can choose between the arts programme or social sciences in 2018

Students can finalise their course choices following the completion of their Leaving Cert in June, but cannot add from certain programmes that are listed as “restricted”. Photo: iStock

It’s worth registering now, though there is plenty of time to select college courses

A new International Financial Services (IFS) apprenticeship gives students an opportunity to earn while they learn. Photo: iStock

Apprenticeships now offer school-leavers a route into major firms in the finance sector

Schools and teachers are free to take on the oral exams in this year’s Junior Cert

A union directive requiring schools to boycott oral exams has been suspended

The only way to evaluate whether a college is right for you is to explore all aspects of its life as fully as you can on its open day. Above, the  UCD Sutherland School of Law in UCD, Belfield. Photograph: David Sleator

Open Days give you a great chance to gauge how good a fit your course and college choice will be

Each year hospitality and tourism businesses  look to recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees across all areas of their operations. Photo: iStock

New online programme offers a wealth of advice over how to get started in the industry

What you need to know to make sure you take full advantage of your open day opportunity

Apprenticeships are expanding and offer brilliant opportunities to develop a wide range of skills. File photograph: iStockPhoto

Earn and learn: Apprenticeships offer great options in new areas such as financial services

Before making an application for a grant, it is worth visiting Susi’s website ( to complete their eligibility reckoner. This allows students to quickly and easily self-assess whether they may or may not be eligible for a student grant. Photo: iStock

There are a range of assistance options, but they are subject to strict income limits

If you are uncertain about your course, you need to ask yourself do you genuinely want to spend the next three years working hard on those subjects? Photo: iStock

There can be heavy financial consequences depending on when you leave a course

There are shortages of qualified teachers in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, along with Irish and home economics. Photograph: iStock

A shortage of qualified teachers in key subjects is a real problem across many schools

A total of 61,654 students who sat the Junior Cycle examinations in June can collect their results from their schools this morning and through the online examination results service on from 4pm. File photograph: Getty Images

Majority of subjects record a drop in the number of As awarded at Higher Level

While this year’s figures show greater participation across most higher level Junior Cert subjects, the number of students getting As is down significantly. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

More than 61,500 candidates sat English under new Junior Cycle reform framework

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