Universities and Institutes of Technology in Ireland are statutorily independent higher education institutions. Admission is a matter for each individual institution and the Department of Education and Skills does not have the authority to intervene in the admissions process. The higher education institutions have delegated to the Central Applications Office (CAO) the task of processing applications to their first year undergraduate courses, and this is carried out by the CAO in a manner intended to ensure transparency and fairness for all candidates. The decision to offer a place is made by the HEI in question and not the CAO.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of Senior Cycle, a process informed by Junior Cycle reform. The NCCA is working particularly closely with students, parents and teachers in a representative sample of 41 schools. The feedback from this direct engagement is helping to inform an extensive series of consultation events being held around the country. The first of the consultation processes focused on the purpose of senior cycle and futures thinking, with the second consultation process focusing on pathways and flexibility.
The review will identify:
- the positives and negatives elements of the current system;
- what learners need to gain from Senior Cycle to succeed and actively participate in an ever-changing world;
- how we can ensure that in the future, senior cycle education helps all students achieve their full potential; and
- what learning and experiences should be recognised, reported on and certified.
The final advisory report is due to be completed by the NCCA this month.