Universities raise stakes in effort to attract top talent
THE cream of this year's Leaving Certificate crop are being wooed by colleges like never before.
A number of universities have rolled out last-minute incentives in a bid to entice the top performers in the autumn.
Over 55,000 Leaving Cert candidates starting their exams today still have time to change their mind about their choice of college and course.
Students often reconsider their options based on how they felt they did in the exams and have until July 1 to submit a revised CAO application.
With an eye on the July 1 deadline, University College Cork (UCC) yesterday announced a doubling of its scholarship scheme to €250,000.
New scholarships -- worth an average of about €1,000 a year -- will be awarded to students with the highest CAO points entering certain courses.
The extra funding is focussed on courses in areas such as languages, food and beverages, and the Green economy -- where graduate skills are needed.
Meanwhile University College, Dublin (UCD), is beefing up its scholarship programme and has created the Ad Astra Academy -- backed by a fund of €1.2m -- creating sporting, academic and Arts bursaries to the value of about €5,000 for 60 of the highest calibre students each year.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn led the good luck wishes. "There are many ways and opportunities for you to continue your education after the Leaving Certificate. I know your hard work will pay off and I wish you every success," he said.
The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) said parents needed to be mindful of the pressures their children were under to achieve and said "a bit of extra TLC and understanding will go a long way".
NAPD director Clive Byrne said that principals, deputy principals and guidance counsellors would be available to students over the course of the exams to offer advice.
Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) president Jack Keane said while it was perfectly normal for students to feel some anxiety, it was really important to keep things in perspective.
"While exams are important they are not everything. Your worth as a person is not tested by any examination. Take each day as it comes and avoid looking back on an exam once you have finished."