CAO system overhaul will see further education and apprenticeships included

CAO system overhaul will see further education and apprenticeships included

Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science speaks to apprentice, Aaron Fegan, from Cavan, during a visit to Bolton Street Campus, TU Dublin.

The minister for higher education is set to overhaul the CAO system to include further education and apprenticeships.

From November, the CAO website will be revamped to include those areas in a bid to ease what has been dubbed the "points race".

Simon Harris is concerned that students are having their further education or training options limited too soon and wants to present apprenticeships and further training as 'equally viable pathways' to university degrees.

The focus comes after Friday's Leaving Certificate results saw record numbers of students achieve a top mark.

To deal with that, an additional 4,650 college places have been created in high-demand courses such as veterinary, dentistry, and health sciences, including medicine.

The Department of Further and Higher Education is expecting fluctuations in CAO points this year, a spokesman for the department said last week.

Mr Harris said he will update Cabinet on the moves later in the year.

“This is a really important piece of work and I want to praise the CAO and Solas and ETBI for working together to bring this to this point. 

For far too long we have been narrowing the conversation to which college will our students attend, rather than what do we want to do and what suits us best.

“This new CAO page will help change the conversation to one where our school leavers know all of their options, know there are many routes to getting to where you want to."

The overhaul will see the CAO include not only PLC opportunities but also traineeships and skills courses that are starting when a person leaves school.

All further education and training timelines will now be linked to CAO timelines with offers being issued at the same time as the CAO.

The plan will be in place for this year’s sixth years. The following year, this will be expanded to allow students to apply for further education through the CAO website.

Separately, Mr Harris has announced a further €38m for higher institutions for the coming year. 

The capital grant will be used, in part, to provide laptops and other devices to disadvantaged students who have difficulty in accessing a suitable device for their studies.

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