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Excitement: Mary Malone is off to study in the Netherlands

Excitement: Mary Malone is off to study in the Netherlands

Excitement: Mary Malone is off to study in the Netherlands

With Leaving Cert exams shelved and students left wondering how they will be graded on past performance, many are anxious about what college options will be open to them.

But some school leavers are taking a different approach and, rather than waiting to see what will be on offer to them, they are heading to European colleges, where our points system is irrelevant.

The courses are usually cheaper, many are taught through English, and most faculties will be open for the academic year as many coronavirus restrictions have already been lifted.

Mary Malone is one such student. The 18-year-old will be studying International Physiotherapy in Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen in the Netherlands

The Limerick woman says she was charmed by the campus and by the city itself during a visit last year and cannot wait to make the move.

"I decided to enrol in college abroad because I was intrigued by the prospect of a new adventure and learned that not only would studying overseas be enriching, but it would also offer me the chance of a better education by studying physiotherapy in a more practical manner than in an Irish university," she said.

"I researched online and applied to several Dutch universities through EUNiCAS (university application support service).

"Then I visited Hanze UAS last September and I was instantly smitten with the vitality of the city and how much it merged together into one vast campus."

Mary, who is the youngest of four, applied and was accepted to the university and has already secured her accommodation.

"I'm eagerly awaiting September and meeting my classmates, many of whom are from Ireland," she says.

"Some of my classes will be online or conducted in small groups [due to Covid-19]- but I'm looking forward to my new adventure."

Irish Independent