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State’s colleges fail to recognise A-Level qualifications – O’Brien

29 May, 2013 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has said the Department of Education and Skills (DES) must examine why some third level institutions in the 26 counties fail to recognise accredited A-Level qualifications obtained by post-primary students in the North.

The Cork North Central TD raised this issue with Education Minister Ruairí Quinn after receiving correspondence from a student in the Six Counties who, after applying for an undergraduate degree course in USI Galway was told they did not consider an A-Level exam “Moving Images Arts” as meeting the necessary entry requirements for the course.

Deputy O’Brien said:

“The failure of colleges in the 26 Counties to recognise A-Level qualifications obtained by students at Post-Primary school in the North is I believe acting as a barrier to third level education in the 26 counties, a fact that is borne out by the statistics I received in a reply to a PQ from Minister Quinn.

“In the past five years, the percentage of full-time third level enrolment numbers from the Six Counties has remained consistently low at between 0.5 and 0.6% of the overall student intake.

“This figure can be in part attributed to the way A-Level examinations are assessed by colleges that have autonomy in the way they implement their admissions policy.

“This means A-Levels that are taught in the North are not conferred the same status as their equivalent in the Leaving Cert exam and in some cases accredited qualifications such as Moving Images Arts are not seen as having any merit whatsoever.

“This is very worrying, particularly when the emphasis should be on greater co-operation and harmonisation between the education systems in both jurisdictions.

“When he addressed this issue, Minister Quinn said that Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), which is responsible for assisting students having their academic qualifications recognised by relevant organisations, cannot become directly involved in the admissions policies of universities.

“This is unacceptable and at the very least the Department of Education and Skills must offer guidance so there is greater co-operation between the Central Applications Office (CAO) and Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to ensure the entry system is fair for students applying to college on both sides of the border.”

Note to editors: The PQ and reply is included below.

Uimhir:48, 59, 76

Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list, in tabular form,
the accredited A Level qualifications that have been obtained at post-primary
level in the six counties in the pas three years whose status has not been
recognised by third level colleges when students have applied for a degree
course here..
- Brian Stanley. (Nominated by: Jonathan O'Brien).

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the basis on which NUI Galway
refuse to recognise the status of moving images arts as a suitable
qualification for students from Northern Ireland who are applying to its drama
degree course despite it being an accredited A Level qualification that is
studied at post-primary in Northern Ireland; if the NQAI have a similar
position to NUI Galway; and if the status of this exam applies to all third
level courses here.
-Brian Stanley. (Nominated by: Jonathan O'Brien).

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 28th May, 2013.
Reference Number: 25405/13, 25206/13, 25404/13


Minister Ruairí Quinn

I propose to take questions 48, 59 and 76 together.
Universities and institutes of technology are autonomous statutory bodies and
the recruitment of students and the establishment of admissions criteria are
matters for the individual institutions concerned. The institutions have
delegated to the CAO the task of processing applications for admission to first
year undergraduate courses, including from students in Northern Ireland. My
Department has no role to play in relation to the operation of the CAO system.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland is responsible for assisting individuals
generally in having their academic qualifications recognised by relevant
organisations but does not, and cannot, become involved directly in the
admissions policies of universities.

The attached table provides the percentage of third level students from
Northern Ireland enrolled in publicly funded higher education institutions
since 2007/08. A full data set is not available for the preceding years.

Very small numbers of students from Northern Ireland enrol in higher education
institutions in the south compared to the numbers of such students applying
through the CAO. While 882 applications from Northern Ireland students were
received through the CAO in 2011, only 168 students subsequently enrolled in
programmes. The proportion on NI students enrolling each year since 2007/08 has
remained at around 0.5%.

- Number of Full-Time Enrolments from NI Counties Proportion of all Full-Time Enrolments
2011-12 733 0.50%
2010-11 710 0.50%
2009-10 801 0.60%
2008-09 756 0.60%
2007-08 769 0.60%

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