The first round of Ireland’s university places offered by its Central Applications Office (CAO) were released this week to 52,031 students, but despite attempts to attract more students from here only 249 were granted to those with British addresses.
That equates to just 0.48 per cent. There were 453 offers given to students in the rest of the EU, 722 to Northern Ireland and 86 to non EU students.
The second round of offers is later this month on 27 August, with subsequent offers to follow that to fill up unclaimed places.
Students here have often found it hard to obtain the required grades to obtain places on prestigious, or the most popular, Irish university courses, such as law, due to how the Irish universities weight A-levels.
At present, the majority of British sixth-form colleges offer three subjects to their students, while school leavers in Ireland get their grades based on the results of their top six subjects.
Under the existing points system, a top A-level grade is worth 150 points, whereas the top A1 grade in a Leaving Certificate subject is worth 100 points.
It means that a student with six top grades at Leaving Certificate level will get 600 points, whereas a student getting top grades in three A-levels can only ever achieve a maximum of 450 points.
In March Irish universities announced that in an attempt to level the school leavers’ playing field, the top ‘A star’ A-level grade would be upgraded from 150 to 180 points, givingthe highest achieving A-level students who have done three subjects an additional 90 points to compete for a place against Irish students.
One attractive prospect for students from here, or the rest of the EU, in going to Ireland is the Free Fee Initiative introduced by Ireland’s Department of Education 20 years ago.
It means that students can avoid the £9,000 tuition fees that British universities can charge per year, saving on high student debts at the end of their course.
In Ireland, any student who has lived in an EEA for three of the five years prior to commencing their course is entitled to benefit from the fees.
All students here are entitled to a tuition fee loan which is paid back at a low rate once students earn over £17,335 but there is no equivalent for students from here seeking to study in Ireland.