Friday 21 October 2016

Going to college: Fewer choices without European language

Published 25/02/2016 | 02:30

Guidance counsellor, Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor, Aoife Walsh

This week, we look at an important question facing transition year and third year students as they make decisions that may influence their post-Leaving Cert choices.

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Many people wrongly believe that if a student does not study a language for the Leaving Cert they will not be able to attend university or any third level institution. However, this is not the case.

Some schools allow students not to take a language at Leaving Cert, however, the decision to drop a language should not be taken lightly. Not having a language in the Leaving Cert can greatly impact on choices in the future.

Most third level colleges do not require entrants to have a European language in order to meet the matriculation requirement. At Trinity College Dublin students are required to pass English and another language, and maths or Latin. The matriculation requirements for Dublin City University are maths and English or Irish. University of Limerick requires students to present English, maths and Irish or another language. So, a student who does not take a foreign language at Leaving Cert should meet the requirements for these universities as long as they take Irish, or have an Irish exemption.

Institutes of technology generally expect students to have passes in English and maths so not choosing a language should have no impact on a candidate's ability to attend one of these institutions. Post-Leaving Cert (PLC) colleges do not require students to have taken a language.

The NUI universities - University College Cork, NUI Galway, University College Dublin and Maynooth University - require students to have passes at ordinary level English and Irish. Students must also pass a third language to take courses in the arts, human science, law, social science, commerce, medicine and health sciences and some other degrees. Students are not required to pass a language for entry to engineering or agricultural science.

A modern European language will also be required for application to cadetships in the defence forces.

So, while not choosing a language will not affect entry to the majority of third level institutions, it will restrict choice, as students will be excluded from the majority of courses in the four NUI universities.

A student with an Irish exemption may apply for an exemption from the requirement to present Irish as a matriculation subject from their chosen institution. They may also apply to NUI for an exemption from the requirement to take a third language.

All Level 8 courses require students to achieve two C3s at higher level and four D3s at ordinary level, while Trinity College Dublin requires students to achieve three C3s at higher level and three D3s at ordinary level.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Important dates


Accounting Boot Camp - Maynooth University (2 days)

Open Day - Roslyn Park College , National Learning Network

Accounting Boot Camp - University College Cork (2 days)


UCAS Extra Opens

February 26

Closing Date for first round interviews - Ormonde College of FE

February 27

HPAT Ireland

March 1

Deadline for amending course choices (€10 fee) - CAO

Deadline for completion of online HEAR/DARE Forms - CAO

Open Day - St. John's Central College

March 2

Open Day - Griffith College Dublin

Open Evening - Irish College of Humanities & Applied Sciences

Open Day - Mountbellew Agricultural College

Information Sessions Roslyn Park College, National learning Network

Question:  I am a person with a minor  disability and interested in studying in Denmark.  How do I to find out about grants etc.?

Answer: In Ireland the main source of financial support for a third level student is the SUSI grant. If you qualify, you may bring this grant with you to study in Europe. There is additional support available to students with disabilities through the student assistance fund (more information on 

There is also a grant available in the Danish system called the supplementary disability grant. You will be eligible for a supplementary grant if your disability makes it difficult or impossible for you to take a student job in addition to your studies. To be eligible you must be able to document that your disability is permanent. You can find more information on studying in Denmark and financial support at

If you choose to pursue third level in Denmark it would be advisable to discuss your situation and possible assistance with the university.

Irish Independent

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