Irish tit-for-tat hits UK applicants

January 28, 2005

Ireland's universities have raised entry requirements for students from the UK in response to a new tariff for Irish students applying to study in Britain.

The move will make it harder for English students to obtain free university education in Ireland. In future, Irish universities will consider applications on the basis of four A levels, rather than three.

The number of applications from the UK is expected to rise significantly from next year when top-up fees are introduced in England; in contrast, tuition fees are off the political agenda in Ireland for the foreseeable future.

The new regulation follows the introduction by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service of a tariff arrangement for Irish Leaving Certificate students applying to UK universities from 2006. In future, an honours Leaving Certificate will be the equivalent of two-thirds of an A level.

The corollary is that the A level is no longer equivalent to two Leaving Certificate subjects. Instead of a maximum of 170 points for an A level at Trinity College, for example, the most it will be worth in future is 150.

Entry into courses such as medicine generally requires 560-570 points.

The change has annoyed schools in Northern Ireland. Although an interim arrangement has been made for 2005, it is expected that there will henceforth be fewer A-level holders getting into high-demand courses such as medicine and law in the Republic.

* MediaLab Europe, the research centre funded by the Irish Government in collaboration with Nicholas Negroponte, professor of media technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is to close with the loss of 50 jobs after just five years. The Government, which has already invested €35 million (£24 million), was asked to provide e9 million more when MediaLab failed to attract sufficient private sponsorship.

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