Published on 

Minister Harris announces significant expansion of courses available outside the points system

Minister Harris announces significant expansion of courses available outside the points system

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today announced a significant expansion in courses outside the CAO system for students in the next academic year.

Speaking at Higher Options and World Skills event in the RDS today Minister Harris said:

“After the huge interest shown in the courses outside the CAO system, I am thrilled to confirm a significant expansion for the next academic year.

“This year over 800 students applied to the first batch of courses outside the CAO points system, which shows the huge level of interest there is in these new pathways.

“Today, a new call issues for the next round of courses and I want to see the number of programmes available to students double.

“Expanding the number of courses is part of the important change and historic reform my Department and I are driving in order to truly improve the further and higher education system. We are doing this by allowing more and more students access education no matter their Leaving Cert results, no matter the points they get.”

Last July, Minister Harris launched a landmark change to ensure undergraduate students, for the first time, could undertake a single programme to earn a university degree outside the points system.

The introduction of the new Joint Tertiary degree route provides a seamless transition from Further Education to Higher Education, through programme co-design, co-delivery and teaching collaboration. These programmes represented an important new departure in flexible provision and will provide more pathways to learners outside the traditional CAO process.

Minister Harris added:

“I am very grateful for the work that has already been put in this year from the Higher Education Institutions and Education Training Boards and I am now calling on all to get involved, to work together to propose new partnerships from today and make more courses available for students in the next academic year.

“Today is another step in making sure our third level sector is fit for purpose, fit for this generation and fit for the changes that lie ahead. I want us to build on the success of the degrees put in place this year and ensure there is a place in education for anyone who wants one.”

Since this year, students have been enrolling on the new joint tertiary degree courses across healthcare, enterprise, ICT and creative sectors in a further education institution knowing they have a guaranteed progression route into a higher education institution to complete their fully accredited degree.

Director of the National Tertiary Office Dr Fiona Maloney confirmed that the:

“pilot tertiary programmes had successfully strengthened relationships between HEIs and ETBs and enhanced opportunities for learners who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to pursue their degree ambitions in 2023”.

Looking forward to 2024, engagement with key stakeholders including unions has commenced. Planning has also commenced with the Technological University of the Shannon to enhance its tertiary offering to include the Athlone campus. The South East Technological University plans to expand it’s offering to include the Athlone campus as well as designing specialist Level 7 and 8 ICT tertiary degrees, in conjunction with and Laois Offaly ETB and Fastrack into Information Technology (FIT), are.