The Irish Universities Association’s decision to increase the points they award for A levels will make it easier for students from Londonderry to gain admission to third level institutions south of the border.
Education Minister O’Dowd said: “This move by southern universities is a positive step forward for local young people studying A levels and I welcome it wholeheartedly.
“Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University and the National University of Ireland, Galway have already shown leadership by making several hundred more places available for local students. With all the southern universities now awarding more points for A levels, local students are even better positioned to compete for places with their southern counterparts who have studied the Leaving Certificate.
“The Irish Universities Association will benefit from the deep pool of talent that exists within local young people studying for A levels. I hope to see this development deliver greater access to the southern universities for local young people in the coming years.”
The Central Applications Office will, from September 2016, increase the points awarded for an A* grade at A level from 150 to 180. The points for an A will increase from 135 to 150, while other A level grades will increase by between five and 10 points.
Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry said: “I welcome this development and appreciate the efforts of the Irish Universities Association in agreeing this position. Cross- border co-operation and undergraduate mobility between institutions in the north and south of Ireland are important from an economic, social and cultural perspective. This development increases the opportunities for students from Northern Ireland to study in the Republic of Ireland.
“My Department’s careers advisers have already been updated on this information and are available to provide advice and guidance to young people to help them make informed decisions about the range of options available to them.”