College open days for mature students
November is a hugely busy month in the calendar of college information sessions and open days for prospective applicants to higher education institutes.
Most of the open days will be attended by school leavers, but there are some dedicated information sessions for mature or graduate applicants.
Tonight, for example, there is an information evening in UCC for mature applicants to that college, and on Saturday next, there is a dedicated open day for graduate applicants to the GEP (Graduate Entry Programme) in medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).
RCSI is the largest medical school in Ireland, and admits students to medicine under three streams: (1) standard undergraduate students, (2) mature applicants to its undergraduate course, and (3) graduate applicants to its Graduate Entry programme.
Four medical schools (UCC, UCD, UL and RCSI) offer four-year courses for graduate entrants to medicine. Graduates applying to any of these four courses, or to graduate entry to Veterinary Medicine in UCD, must hold, or expect to hold by July 2011, at least a Second Class Honours Grade One (a 2:1) in their first undergraduate Level 8 (Honours) degree. Once they meet that requirement, they must sit the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test).
The GAMSAT consists of three elements: (1) reasoning in humanities and social sciences, (2) written communication and (3) reasoning in biological and physical sciences. Information provided on the GAMSAT website (www.gamsat-ie.org) stresses that a science degree is not a prerequisite, but success is not likely without knowledge of the biological and physical sciences.
Turning to mature applicants to any course, colleges within CAO vary in their selection procedures. There are many opinions on the different selection mechanisms that are appropriate and practical. Colleges may be constrained by all kinds of considerations, usually budgetary, in what they choose to use.
University College Cork (UCC) and University College Dublin (UCD) both introduced, on a pilot basis, the MSAP (mature students' admissions pathway) test for mature applicants to courses in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences in UCC, and the College of Arts and Celtic Studies and College of Human Sciences in UCD. They have been joined by NUI Galway, who will also use the MSAP for mature applicants to courses in its College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies.
The MSAP test is prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Details of the test are on ACER's website: www.msap.acer.edu.au.
The three tests -- HPAT (for undergraduate medical applicants), GAMSAT (for graduate entry medical and veterinary applicants) and MSAP -- take place on dates in February or March 2011. Registration is now open.
Other open days this week: Today Senior College, Eblana Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, hosts an open day outlining its PLC/FE and other courses, from 10am--4pm Several Institutes of Technology (ITs) hold open days this weekend, with open days on Friday in IT Carlow from 10am-1.30pm, and in Letterkenny IT from 9.30am-3pm; Athlone IT hosts open days on Friday, and Saturday. UL hosts a parents and students information day on Saturday from 10.30am-2.30pm.