There are have a number of programmes in our education system relating to the EU – but we could do more. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Neglect in schools could prove costly if we fail to address it

The great thing about horticulture is that there are courses available from degree to PhD level. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Horticulture graduates are in demand and employed across many areas

For those who are studying for the 2022 Leaving Cert, forget about the CAO for now and focus on your exams. Photograph: iStock

CAO 2022: Most applicants get an outcome which enables them to successfully progress to the next stage of their educational journe(...)

Students are advised to check the website for updates. Photograph: iStock

Timeline for this year’s college application process

Life is a journey of exploration and discovery and expecting a young person to decide their occupation for life in sixth year is unrealistic in most cases. Photograph: iStock.

Options to consider – and reasons to be cheerful – when selecting your move after the exam

Go to by January 20th to make a course application.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

You need to register now to apply for college through the CAO, but you have until July 1st to make a final decision on your course(...)

If your son has no desire to go directly from school to college, step back and let him figure out his next move. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Step back and give him space and time to figure out his own pathway

The main Feeder Schools table does not represent a ‘true rate’ for the progression of Leaving Certificate 2021 students to college this year as it takes account of a number of different elements. Photograph: iStock

Ironing out statistical quirks in the school league tables

Other options: In the past 10 years, a growing number of Irish students have opted to study in continental EU universities. Photograph: iStock

It is important to understand the component parts: there are two key numbers associated with each school listed

Irish young people, unlike students in the UK, tend to apply for third-level places at their local colleges.  Photograph: iStock

More students from Deis schools secured places on high-points courses than from fee-paying schools but disparity remains

Sudying a subject for which you already have passion  is the ultimate criteria for excelling. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Arts students are very employable and equipped for a range of career options

Next year’s Hpat is due to take place online, as it did in 2021. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Practising sample tests and questions is highly effective preparation

My daughter is  commuting to college for two or three hours because rental costs are so high, leaving  no time to take part in clubs and societies. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Covid and rising costs have changed the face of college life for today’s students

There is strong demand for veterinary graduates of recognised programmes in the UK and EU. Photograph: Getty Images

Ask Brian: There are programmes abroad where graduate demand is strong

The primary school teaching programme in Stenden, like other undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Dutch research and applied universities, is €2,209 per year. File photograph: Getty

Ask Brian: There are affordable degree options in the EU taught through English

There seems to be a growing crisis in second level teacher supply crisis, particularly in major urban centres. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Teacher supply crisis drives acute shortages in certain subjects

It is also vital to remind your child  to deal promptly with any correspondence from the CAO. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Reading the CAO handbook carefully to identify relevant deadlines is crucial

The past 18 months have been particularly difficult for a significant group of our young people. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Many young people are struggling due to anxiety and school closures

Freshers Day at Dublin City University’s campus in Glasnevin, this year. Ireland’s institutions have sprung back to life with freshers and second-year students on campus, for the first time in most cases. Photograph: Derick Hudson/iStock

Open days let you gauge how good a fit your course and college choice will be

Whether it is virtual or in person, preparing in advance of  an open day is key to getting the most out of the experience. Photograph: iStock

What you need to do to make a well-informed decision about your future

As Covid-19 has demonstrated, nobody can foresee what roles and responsibilities will be needed in just a few years’ time. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Most colleges have a late October date to withdraw without penalties

The uncertainty of the past two years has left all involved in our second-level exam process in a less predictable world. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ask Brian: It seems likely next year’s grades will be lower than 2021’s record highs

Education Editor at The Irish Times Carl O’Brien, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris,  and Dr  Mary-Liz Trant of Solas   speaking at last year’s Higher Options. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Event has the potential to be the most valuable six hours you will spend this year

It’s very difficult for a teenager to make a career or study decision when they have had limited experience of the outside world. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Engaging directly with individual colleges is a good start

There are many educationalists and many well-regarded teachers who question the whole rationale behind the concept of regular written homework. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Parents often complain children don’t get enough written work

The prevalence or absence of bullying activity is determined by how a school both devises and implements their anti-bullying policies. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Parents are entitled to question schools about anti-bullying policies

There may still be time to register with your local further education college to take a one-year post-Leaving Cert course. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: I’m worried about the cost of fees and accommodation if he drops out

Colleges and universities  have access programmes for people like yourself who wish to explore their educational goals. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Access to education is lifelong and there are lots of ways to re-engage

Many Leaving Cert students are still uncertain where their academic interests lie. Photograph: iStock

There are alternatives to the traditional route to further your education

University College Cork. Four programmes – dentistry in both Trinity and UCC, management science and information systems in Trinity, and economics and finance in UCD – require the maximum score possible of 625.

Government signed off on system which left students with a 100 per cent score without a place on their first-choice programme.

It must be a slightly unnerving prospect for lecturing staff and students to be starting out with such an elite group. File photograph: Getty

Brian Mooney: Maximum Leaving Cert points no longer secure that college place

There are up to 30,000 places available in further-education colleges throughout the country.

Further education programmes, apprenticeships and traineeships offer career progression and skills enhancement outside the traditi(...)

Applicants can accept only one offer and the date and time next week by which it will lapse is clearly printed on the offer notice. Photograph: iStock

Moment of truth for thousands of applicants as first college offers are issued

In using Catholic schools to process the baptised population through the formalities of practice, we have effectively destroyed faith as a lived reality. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: The place to nurture faith is within the community, not in schools

The  Leaving Cert class of 2021 will benefit from being given the only hybrid exam structure in the world when they collect their results today. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Students benefit from choice between exams and accredited grades but CAO points will rise

Of the 57,952 students who sat the traditional Leaving Cert this year, 5, 087, or 8.8 per cent, opted to fully accept their teachers’ assessed grades. Photograph: iStock

Average grades across all subjects and levels increased by 2.6 percentage points

In 2020, students taking higher-level papers, under the calculated grades system, secured approximately ten per cent higher marks than the 2019 class. Photograph: iStock

The first step for many will be to convert your results into CAO points

The high levels of vaccination among young people is a good omen for the coming academic year. Photograph: iStock

Points requirements are determined by a combination of factors

The decision by the UK government to accept teachers’ estimated grades without a standardisation process was always going to inflate performance. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Some over-subscribed universities are offering cash to students to defer

Applicants who are receiving an offer today include those who are being offered a place on the four-year graduate entry medicine programme. Photograph: iStock

Mature applicants and other categories of student to get offer ahead of September 7th Round One

Forty-two thousand applicants amended their course application preferences during May and June

Figures indicate an increase in applications from 77,813 in 2020 to 84,526 this year

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris aims to create 4,500 extra third-level places. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

Harris plans to provide 4,500 additional third-level places as demand increases

Checking the CAO website for offers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Impact of deferred applications means places in top-points courses likely to be reduced

It is normal for Leaving Cert students to feel stressed coming up to the written papers. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Take a deep breath: anxiety is only here for a short time and soon it will be gone

Quadrangle Building, National University of Ireland Galway: Students will soon have to finalise their course choices for the CAO.  Photograph: iStock

Reopening our higher and further education institutions in a transformed online world

Many students and parents are asking whether points will be similar to last year? From my analysis, they may well end up being even higher – especially in some high-demand courses – for a number of reasons.

Sitting exams maximises your grades potential and chances of securing your top course

The Europass Diploma Supplement is a standard supplemental set of information about a qualification developed jointly by Unesco and the Council of Europe.

Ask Brian: Europass is a useful platform for working or studying on the Continent

Government needs to increase investment to ensure proper pay and conditions for early years professionals so they are on a par with professionals in the wider care and education sector. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Increased investment in childcare sector is crucial to avoid exodus of staff

In-depth research into the course you wish to study, along with where you want to study it, are key to third-level success. File photograph: iStock

Should you change your choice? Review your courses now and reap the rewards later

Changing perceptions: apprenticeships have been traditionally associated with the construction and motor industries and with young men. Photograph: Getty

Many programmes are designed with local employers and are attuned to their needs

Many  parents and young people don’t realise that there are alternative entry routes into college courses which require far fewer points. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There are often alternative routes to study popular courses which require far fewer points

Many applicants use the initial CAO application in January as a holding exercise and it will soon be time  to submit a definitive list of options. Photog: Getty

Now is the time to review your CAO course selection in order to get them right by the July 1st deadline.

In some courses, up to 15 per cent of the places available in 2021 are already allocated to  2020 Leaving Cert students. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Ask Brian: 2021 may be the most competitive yet in the competition for third-level places

The coming days are important for all 2021 Leaving Cert students who are considering their final options for accredited grades, because the State Examinations Commission portal is due to open today and close on Friday, April 30th. File photograph: iStock

Students who sit written exams have greater control over their eventual results

To be eligible for student funding, you   must meet several eligibility criteria including nationality, place of residence, previous further/higher education, approved course, and income. Photograph: iStock

Applicants don’t need results or offers – you just need to show your preferred course

The pandemic has done huge damage to the normal emotional and psychological growth of many of our young people.

There are excellent programmes which aim to develop young people’s soft skills

Technological advances mean schools can easily help reconnect childhood friends. Photograph: iStock

Technological advances mean schools can easily help reconnect childhood friends

Some master’s programmes will facilitate an immediate transfer on to a PhD.

Ask yourself what type of programme you wish to follow: research or taught

There is a wider choice of options in the area of business for prospective students of every level of academic ability than in any other area of study. Photograph: Getty

Invest in your future with one of the many business degree programmes on offer

In an increasingly competitive jobs market, it is always worth considering what will set you apart from other graduates. Photograph: Getty

A postgraduate programme may help you gain stills to match the needs of employers

The original equipment manufacturing apprenticeship is a brand new programme targeted at a growing sector of the manufacturing economy. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Earn-and-learn options offer great opportunities to school leavers

Trinity College says its E3 education is designed to give graduates the skills they need to create solutions that enable society to live sustainably and equitably. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: A growing number of colleges are offering courses in sustainability

There are now 80,000 applicants seeking places through the CAO in 2021, which is an additional 6,000 applicants in 2020 numbers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Ask Brian: All signs are that CAO points will not be returning to 2019 levels anytime soon

Students who sat the postponed Leaving Cert at the end of last year may choose the highest combination of results from their calculated grades and the written exams. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: The class of 2020 has more options to combine Leaving Cert grades with Hpat results

When choosing Leaving Cert subjects, be sure to check the   minimum entry requirements for courses you are interested in. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Be sure to examine entry requirements for courses he is interested in

Many teachers are working more than twice their contracted hours and would have a far more balanced quality of life if they could return to their classrooms.  work. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Teachers are delivering online to their students and working longer hours

Irish is a minimum entry criteria for some third level courses, but you may be entitled to an exemption. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Irish can be an entry criteria but she may be entitled to an exemption

Students who are eligible for a  grant under Susi  are entitled to use that funding when registered to study in a university within the UK or Northern Ireland. File photograph: iStock

Irish students will not pay international fees – but costs may jump nonetheless

Keep note of all important dates in the 2020 college application process. Photograph: iStock

Timeline for this year’s college application process

The first step to take towards third level is  to register your intention to seek a CAO college place immediately. Photograph: Getty Images

The transition from school to third level can be a challenge. This is what you have to do

Colleges delegate the processing of applications for undergraduate courses to the CAO.

The points for any given third-level course can rise or fall each year

Career choices will recur many times over your lifetime. Photograph: Getty Images

Questions to help determine your career path

Technological requirements to complete the test will be daunting for many students

In any given year it can be estimated that up to 25 per cent of all incoming first-year students sat the Leaving Cert in a year prior to the current one. Photograph: Getty

College data accounts for current and previous students who register in the same year

The Irish Times’ Feeder School supplement gives a school-by-school breakdown on the number of students progressing to higher-level education and shows what third-level institution they have registered with. Photograph: Getty

Feeder schools: Social class still a big factor in securing college places

There is a shortage of Spanish teachers in the Irish education system. Photograph: iStock

Teaching Council has revised subject requirements for would-be teachers

There are acute shortages of teachers in some key subjects – especially science, languages and home economics. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: You should have studied at least one subject from post-primary curriculum at degree level

The most important action for mature CAO applicants  is to apply immediately to ensure all your paperwork is in order. Photograph: iStock

CAO applicants required to submit extra paperwork should start preparing now

Remote learning is putting a huge strain on students, particularly first years. Photograph: iStock

Remote learning is putting a huge strain on many students, particularly first years

No need to panic: the normal closing date for CAO applications is February 1st, but the deadline for course choices in most cases is July 1st. Photograph: iStock

An initial list must be submitted by February 1st but this can be fully amended later

Transition year is aimed at personal development and a lack of focus on Leaving Cert subjects or career aspirations should not give rise to concern.

Ask Brian: Students can access a variety of websites to explore options

Law graduates have a basket of skills which can be applied across a multiplicity of occupations. Photograph: iStock

Legal qualifications are useful across many areas including compliance and governance

Susi’s online application system will close on November 5th. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There’s still time, but the application deadline expires soon

Colleges that are comfortable allowing you to meet current students usually provide a high quality of service.

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

Months of hard work have gone in to bringing together colleges electronically from the four corners of the world.  Photograph: Conor Mulhern

Representatives from the CAO, universities, colleges, further education institutions and educational bodies will be available in a(...)

Always ask the teacher to revisit aspects of the course  you may have forgotten or found difficult to understand.  Photograph: iStock

Next year’s papers will look similar to previous years, but with more choice

There is just one veterinary faculty on the island of Ireland, offering 82 places each year. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There are lots of other routes, mostly in mainland Europe

Cost-cutting means there are few options for entry into nursing outside the CAO process, despite the number of PLC courses. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Cost-cutting means there are few options outside the CAO process

Anecdotally, many who have registered to the Leaving Cert in Novemeber have yet to make up their mind as to whether they will sit the exams. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: It won’t be easy. But if you are genuinely dissatisfied, it is worth the effort to secure those extra CAO points

There has been a  growth in interest among Irish students in  European universities over recent years. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Cheaper fees, prestigious courses and easier entry requirements are turning many students’ heads

Leaving Cert 2020 applicants who have not to date secured one of their preferred CAO places can now apply to  sit the examination.

Brian Mooney: The CAO’s Available Places facility has almost 200 courses advertised

Most educators acknowledge the experience of online learning was far from ideal earlier this year as institutions  quickly pivoted to emergency remote learning. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Most teaching in third level will be online, but there are supports available

Financially, funding an apartment or other accommodation on a full-time basis is beyond reasonable in the present circumstances.  Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Many families are struggling to justify the cost of accommodation given so much material will be taught online

In the case of 17% of grades nationally, students may be frustrated and angry when they find out that their teachers’ estimates were lowered by the department under its standardisation process. Photograph: Getty Images

For some this data will be of mild interest, yet for others it will feel very significant

With a 10%  mean average increase in grades within higher papers it was always inevitable that those who had delayed their application to college would be squeezed by the process

By creating additional college places the Government has kept down the CAO point requirements

About 20,000 applicants did the Leaving Cert last year or earlier

Grades are up significantly this year, so expect increased points for many programmes

Only one CAO offer can be accepted and the date and time next week by which it will lapse is clearly printed on the offer notice.

Moment of truth for thousands of applicants as first college offers are issued today.

On Friday at 2pm when first-round offers are released, all will be revealed. Photograph: iStock

Grade inflation will send points upwards – but more college places may ease pressure

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD with students Lauren Smyth, Claire Geoghegan and Róisín Culligan from Dominican College, Griffith Avenue, Dublin on Leaving Cert Results day. Photograph: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Discrepancies in the way grades were lowered raises some urgent questions

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