Trinity College Dublin to relax NI student entry rules
Ireland's oldest university, Trinity College Dublin, is to relax its admission rules for a limited number of students from Northern Ireland.
The university currently requires NI students to attain four A-Levels before it will consider their applications.
But from September 2015, TCD will admit some NI students who have taken three A-level exams, provided they achieve a minimum of one A and two B grades.
The move is aimed at doubling the number of NI students entering TCD.
Trinity College's authorities have set an eventual target to admit 300 students from Northern Ireland each year.
Most pupils in Northern Ireland study for three A-levels, whereas pupils in the Republic of Ireland study at least six subjects for their Leaving Certificate exams.
In 2005, a points system was devised to help universities on both sides of the border compare the results of pupils taking the different exams.
However, that meant that many Northern Ireland pupils could not apply for popular courses in the Republic, unless they took four A-levels.
Trinity College's new policy has been welcomed by Northern Ireland's Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry and Education Minister John O'Dowd.
Mr Farry said: "Cross-border co-operation and undergraduate mobility between institutions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are important from an economic, social and cultural perspective.
"I welcome this announcement by Trinity College Dublin which supports greater cross-border student mobility."
Mr O'Dowd said: "I am pleased that the necessity for applicants from the north to have four A-levels is being relaxed, as this has been one of the main barriers in the past.
"This issue has been raised and discussed at the North South Ministerial Council Education sectoral format on numerous occasions and I welcome the progress that has been made."
"I look forward to similar approaches being taken by the other universities in the south," Mr O'Dowd added.
National Union of Students-Union of Students in Ireland president Rebecca Hall said: "This is very good news and I hope that more initiatives can be put in place by other institutions around the island of Ireland to deliver further cross-border student mobility opportunities."
Trinity College was founded in 1592.