N. Ireland Politics

Irish colleges reject NI A-Level subjects

Some pupils in Northern Ireland have had to drop plans to apply for Republic of Ireland courses this year
Image caption Some pupils in Northern Ireland have had to drop plans to apply for Republic of Ireland courses this year

The Republic of Ireland's seven main universities in the will not accept results in four A-Levels taken by students in Northern Ireland this year.

The affected subjects are Software Systems Development, Moving Image Arts, Digital Technology and Environmental Technology.

Some pupils in Northern Ireland have had to drop plans to apply for courses in the Republic of Ireland this year.

It is thought the situation will be resolved by next year.

The A-Levels are set by the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA).

The CCEA and Irish Universities Association (IAU) said they hope students due to start university in 2018 will not be affected.

CCEA is the Northern Ireland body which sets and runs exams, while the IUA represents the seven Irish universities.

They are Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway, Maynooth University, University College Dublin, University of Limerick and Dublin City University.

In a statement to the BBC, the IUA said it classed the four A-levels as "applied" A-Levels.

"Applied A-Levels have not been accepted for matriculation purposes by universities in the Republic of Ireland," it said.

"This is clearly stated in each university's prospectus and admissions information and continues to apply."

Laoise Duffy from Our Lady and St Patrick's College in Knock had intended to study at University College Dublin (UCD) in 2017.

Image caption Laoise Duffy recently discovered that her A-Level in Software Systems Development would not count towards her application to UCD

As well as wanting to live and be educated in Dublin, she was keen to join UCD's women's Gaelic football team.

However, she recently discovered that her A-Level in Software Systems Development would not count towards her application, making a place unlikely.

"We were on the UCD website and they had a link saying 'list of accepted A-Levels'," she said. "But when we looked at it, we found it wasn't on the list.

"Basically, it means they don't accept it as an A-Level, so it wouldn't count towards my application for UCD."

Her careers teacher James Davey said that meant only two of Laoise's three A-Levels would be credited.

Image caption Our Lady and St Patrick's College's careers teacher James Davey expressed disappointment at the situation

"The way that the application process works is that they score a number of points depending on the grade that they achieve," he said.

"But unfortunately that subject would not have contributed any points at all to Laoise's application."

In a statement, CCEA said it had asked IUA "for clarification on their admissions policy" and "requested they reconsider their position".

It pointed out that the four A-levels are all accepted by universities in the UK.

The IUA responded by saying: "The seven universities have agreed to review the following four CCEA A-Level subjects for matriculation purposes, with a view to implementing any findings in time for the 2018 admissions cycle."

"Given the current stage of the 2017 admissions cycle, it is unfortunately not possible to make any changes to the information already published for this year."

As for Laoise, having abandoned her plans to study in Dublin, she has applied for Queen's University in Belfast instead.