New report recommends lottery system for awarding college places

By Sorcha Jowitt

The Hyland report, released earlier this month, has recommended a CAO lottery for college places.

Former UCD vice-president Professor Aine Hyland also said that the Leaving Certificate no longer examines what it was designed for. An idea Head of Communications at the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Malcolm Byrne, agrees with:

“We are concerned about the leaving certificate at the moment. There is too much focus on just learning and not enough on the student’s skills. This needs to be amended,” said Mr Byrne.

Professor Hyland is a member of the evaluation programme at the European University Association and is concerned over Irish colleges slipping down world rankings and the lack of improvement in the standard of maths and science subjects.

According to Mr Byrne the lottery system proposed by Professor Hyland, “will be discussed next week at a conference with the HEA and we welcome any student perspective on the new plan.”

Professor Hyland feels the CAO admission system is being put under more strain than before and the level of competition is too much.

Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, has backed the report and its findings.

“In short, my concern is that any benefits of future second-level curriculum reform will be undermined if we do not also address the direct question of the demands and pressures placed on both teachers and students by the current points system,” said Mr Quinn.

Professor Hyland says a weighted system involving random selection and further aptitude tests and interviews would be a way forward for what is now a highly competitive system.

A formal discussion of the report took place between the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the HEA and the results of this meeting will soon be published, including the views on the CAO lottery proposal.

Professor Hyland also recommended that less specialised courses be available to ease the competitiveness for college places and aid a better learning experience in secondary schools.

Mr Byrne said that any students with view on the new proposals can be post them on the website.

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