Quinn to consider bonus points for science students

LEAVING Certificate pupils look set to be rewarded for studying science as Education Minister Ruairi Quinn examines the possibility of giving students extra points for taking up subjects.

Students sitting higher-level maths exams from next year will receive more points in their bid for college places.

Last night, Mr Quinn revealed he was also considering introducing incentives to boost the take-up of science following calls from employers and industry experts.

Speaking at the MacGill summer school in Glenties, Co Donegal, he said: “Most young people are smart and rational and they take the easiest route to get the most amount of points in order to get into the college.

“We have made some subjects easier to study and yet you get the same number of points for them that you get for science or for mathematics or for different technologies. You have to rebalance that. I accept the argument that has been made that we need more science and engineering graduates into the workforce but we have to get them doing mathematics at the junior level and then at the Leaving Certificate level.”

Asked whether he intended giving students extra points for studying science, he added: “I will be looking at that kind of thing.”

Students sitting higher-level maths in 2012 will receive an extra 25 points, a move initiated by former education minister Mary Coughlan.

In September, the Higher Education Authority and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment will examine how the system of assessing students fits with entry to third level.

Mr Quinn is also pressing ahead with reforms of the junior cycle, which will include students only sitting eight exams and their assessment being split between results and portfolio work. These changes will be introduced next year.

Responding to the minister’s comments last night, Hewlett Packard Ireland managing director Martin Murphy said: “Education must be focused on what we will need in the future and we need a system that is dynamic, flexible and creative. I welcome Mr Quinn’s announcement that he is considering awarding extra bonus points for honours science.”

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