Sean Defoe
Sean Defoe

07.00 8 Mar 2021


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The CAO system for accessing third level education could be reformed under new plans from the Government.

The changes would see easier access to apprenticeships and other alternative paths to college.

The Department of Higher Education and Research was created under the current Government, and this morning Minister Simon Harris will set out its first plans for reform of the sector.

Chief among those is changes to the CAO system for accessing third level education.

At present the CAO doesn't include things like apprenticeships, further education options or traineeships.

The new plans would see one platform offer college and university courses alongside alternative pathways in education in a single portal.

It comes amid fears that the options for students are being limited too early under the current system.

It would also create a single credit system to make it easier to move from further to higher education courses.

The plan will commit to increasing the number of apprenticeships in Ireland to 10,000 a year by 2025 - up from around 6,000 in 2019.

International education

The new plan will also include a strategy for international education.

CAO figures show 2,600 people who would have applied to the UK for third level courses are now seeking education in Ireland, as well as an increase in the number of British students studying here - something seen as an impact of Brexit.

Legislation is being considered to give further powers to the Higher Education Authority and to reduce the size of governing authorities.

A ten-year plan for literacy and numeracy will also be launched, as one in five people have difficulty reading and one in eight have trouble with numbers.

Main image: File photo of Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie

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