Wednesday 13 December 2017

Must mature students meet the same points requirements as school leavers?

Mary O'Donnell

Although most of the focus during the college application period is on school leavers, significant numbers of college applicants each year are non-standard applicants, including mature applicants, ie applicants over 23 years of age.

Last year's CAO application figures showed that over 12,300 of a total of about 74,000 applicants were "mature", representing about one in every six applicants.

Whereas school-leaving college applicants may be surrounded by help and advice, mature applicants often feel uncertain where to turn. Nevertheless, there are plenty of sources of information available.

Prospective mature applicants can get a general overview of their opportunities, for example, on the Qualifax website,, where they will find a number of sites devoted to mature entry.

All colleges are anxious to help mature students make informed decisions, and they have many support services in place. College websites are a most sophisticated source of information for all applicants, and lists of website addresses of Higher Education Institutes can be quickly accessed directly or through the CAO website.

Many college websites have dedicated sections for mature applicants, geared to answer their specific questions. The CAO handbook, also available online, contains useful information for mature applicants, including details of how they should apply.

Q Must mature students meet the same points requirements as school leavers?

A No. Mature applicants will be considered on the basis of other criteria, although some may use their Leaving Cert results. All college courses attract applications from mature applicants and there is no uniform selection mechanism. Trinity College, for example, requires some mature applicants to pass tests. Applicants to music courses must sit the same written test as all applicants to music; mature applicants to English courses are asked to write an essay; while those applying to psychology are required to sit an aptitude test, for which no fee is required. Mature applicants to nursing in any college must also sit tests.

UCD and UCC introduced a pilot scheme last year whereby mature applicants to most arts and social science degree programmes take an aptitude test called the Mature Students Admissions Pathway (MSAP). This same test will be used again this year. Mature applicants who achieve over 60pc in the UCD Adult Education Course 'Access to Arts and Human Sciences' are not required to sit the MSAP. Tomorrow, Trinity College Dublin will hold a dedicated information session for mature student applicants from 4.30pm to 7.30pm in the Arts Building in Trinity. A series of talks will run simultaneously every half hour throughout the session and these will cover all faculties.

Information evenings are planned for today for CAO applicants (including mature applicants) in Galway-Mayo IT from 7pm-9pm; in NUI Maynooth from 7pm-9.30pm; in Dun Laoghaire IADT from 5pm-7pm; and in Dublin Business School (DBS), Aungier St, Dublin 2, today from 2-7pm. Information sessions on the HEAR and DARE access routes will be held this evening (Wednesday 13) in Newman Theatre UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4 at 7.30pm, and in Emmett Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin 1 from 7pm-9pm .

Irish Independent

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