Deputy Charlie McConalogue says the Minister’s hands-off approach in tackling the escalating points race has led to some students being locked out of certain courses because colleges are artificially inflating points.
Despite agreeing to reduce the number of courses on offer, many of the country’s main universities have taken minimal action to meet their targets.
He added that Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s failure to demand action on this issue is leading to hundreds of students missing out on third level courses.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “This is an extremely serious issue that is affecting hundreds of students across the country. Universities are effectively using the points system as a marketing tool to make their courses appear more competitive and elusive, and in the process of doing this are shutting eligible students out of their programmes.
“The universities have never made a secret of the practice, and its prevalence has perpetuated the fallacy that high points courses are more prestigious, which is not always the case. This has exacerbated the points race and has heaped even more pressure on already stressed-out Leaving Cert students.
“The Education Minister has made noises about tackling the situation, but the reality is that very little has been done. A working group has been set up, but some of the universities are more than reluctant to take the recommendations on board. In fact, Trinity College and NUI Galway have failed to reduce the number of honours degree courses they offer. Others have only made token efforts. Minister O’Sullivan needs to get serious about this issue – students’ future careers are being affected by what is no more than a marketing ploy.
“New nationals guidelines should be examined and efforts to broaden third level entry options need to be considered. Apprenticeships and traineeships, which have stagnated under this Government, need to be seen a credible alternative for students, and there needs to be a move away from the restricted emphasis on university education as the preferred third level option.
“Minister O’Sullivan’s record on student welfare has been laid bare over the last few months, with an accommodation crisis spiralling out of control, and the points system being callously controlled by vested interests, the Minster who should be the students’ champion is leaving them horribly exposed”.