Posted on 24-08-2007
Filed Under (Examination) by gashed

So, it’s the time of the year where the Leaving Certificate results are released.  It is these results that determine admission to 3rd level.  The student’s points are determined from the results of their 6 best subjects, the maximum on each being 100 points.  The students have previously selected the course they wish to attend and those with the highest points are accepted.  While the points required for each course depends both on the number of places available and the number of students applying; they give an idea of the level of interest in the various courses on offer.  This year the science courses showed a decrease in the number of points required, which can be interpreted in a decrease in interest in careers in science.  For law, medicine and other professional qualifications the points increased or remained high.  Nursing points increased above 500 for the first time (600 is the maximum number of points attainable).  Universities are always alarmed when the points for their courses starts dropping, not only does it mean that the academic standard of student attending may be declining, but also because future students will be loath to apply for courses with a points cut-off below what they expect to get.  Students refer to this as ‘wasting points’.
The rationale behind student’s choice of courses has always been difficult to work out.  Location still plays a big role; students in university cities rarely travel to attend colleges elsewhere.  Choices are almost invariable made with reference to where they perceive employment to be, but they are reluctant to choose courses where the points are well below their level.  David McWilliams refers to this in his article published in the Irish Independent.  He notes that many of the corporate employment opportunities arising from the high point courses may be comparable to the factory line jobs of previous times; employees lack autonomy, the jobs can lack variety, lack creativity and limited potential for professional growth and satisfaction.  They also are financially less desirable than those working in trades.
The government is concerned about the lack of interest in science and technology in second level students.  The reform of the Junior Certificate syllabus may result in more students taking science subjects at senior level, and subsequently third level.  I would also suggest that the government before introducing any changes to the points system or science at second level, first research carefully the rationale that students use to determine their choices for third level courses.

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Philip M on 27 August, 2007 at 10:28 pm #

One reason why students go for Law, Medicine etc versus Enginnering and Science…drop into any dealer of Mercs/ BMWs and I guarantee you that the ratios follow the exact same pattern. Students are not stupid.

Also, Science and Eng jobs (possibly with the exception of software dev and Biotech) require a high cost infrastructure to allow them to work. You wont see many Mech Engineers jobs for designing cars in Ireland. Engineers in Ireland wind up for the most part working for international companies with zero local autonomy.

The high points for other courses are due mainly to a genuine vocational call i.e. nursing etc.

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