Comment & Analysis
Jun 3, 2019

Extending the Admissions Feasibility Study Isn’t Enough – College Must Helm National Change

Five years on from the study’s introduction, there has been little by way of tangible expansion.

Léigh as Gaeilge an t-Eagarfhocal (Read Editorial in Irish) »
By The Editorial Board

In April, when The University Times first revealed that the College was considering scrapping its admissions feasibility study, many students were predictably unhappy.

Why, some asked, was Trinity planning to do away with a system that offered a precious alternative to some – if arguably not enough – incoming students?

This week, The University Times reported that University Council has decided to extend the scheme by a further two years, in order to “influence the national conversation” around the much-maligned leaving certificate and CAO points system.


This, it’s fair to say, is good news for the 25 students each year for whom the admissions study offers an alternative to the current – wholly inadequate – norm.

But if Trinity wants to lead the way in moving the country’s focus away from the CAO crunch and towards a system that has proved its value by demonstrating that students with less points can still thrive, it needs to commit at some point to stepping up its efforts.

Nobody is arguing that a new system for admitting students is easy to conceive. And while Trinity’s study offers alternatives – like the rank of a student in their class and personal statements – it is difficult to envisage how these would be scaled up.

If alternative admissions are to be implemented successfully, it will most likely be necessary to automate the process – something national organisations like the CAO and the HEA would have to take part in.

Nevertheless, we are now five years on from the study’s introduction and there has been little enough to give heart to those who want it to exist as “a live viable entity”.

With the Trinity Access Programme, College committed itself to a course of action that has gained international attention and the sincerest form of commendation – imitation by a world-leading university.

For the admissions feasibility study to thrive, Trinity must now display similar levels of creativity – of both thought and action – as well as convincing the government and other institutes of its obvious merits.

Otherwise, it’s depressingly easy to see it dying a quiet death in two years time.