independent

Monday 21 April 2014

CAO expert to examine points alternative trial

A CAO expert has welcomed efforts by Trinity College to explore an alternative to the points system for college entry, but has reservations about whether there is a better way.

Professor Aine Hyland is a strong supporter of the impartiality and transparency of the points system, but said that after almost 40 years it was worth examining other options.

Professor Hyland has agreed to be part of the Final Review Committee helping Trinity to evaluate its new initiative, which is being rolled out on a trial basis in 2014 and 2015.

She said her participation was "not an endorsement" of the proposal but said "it is commendable that something is being looked at".

She said: "I feel it is no harm for a new generation to have a look at a different mechanism.

"I am doing it with some doubt, but I have an open mind. I am very willing to be involved in an impartial way and not carry any prejudices."

The points system has been criticised for rewarding those who can afford to get grinds and who perform well in exams.

But under the new TCD initiative, applicants for a limited number of places on three courses will be assessed in three ways – CAO points, a personal statement and their general school performance.

Ten of 90 first-year places in law, 10 of 40 places in history, and five of 15 places in ancient and medieval history and culture are being reserved for the new admissions route.

The scheme will act as a feasibility study for other universities as part of the wider review of the points system.

Prof Hyland said she would be concerned about the value of students submitting a personal statement, because it would be difficult to verify whether it was their own work.

Patrick Geoghegan Page 25

Irish Independent

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