Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD says the Government needs to place a greater emphasis on reforming the CAO system and broadening entry to third level education.

Deputy Byrne said, “In recent years we have seen a significant increase in points requirements for a large number of third level degrees. The drop in points requirements in this year’s CAO offerings is welcome, but these drops are only marginal at best. 40% of all courses on offer have seen an increase in points requirements. Points inflation remains a significant problem and the Government needs to step up its efforts to tackle this issue.

“The Government needs to overhaul and expand our system of apprenticeships. Many other countries, such as Germany, have invested significantly in degree apprenticeship programs in recent years with the aim of providing alternative routes of entry into third level education. This investment has had a profoundly positive impact and has helped promote job prospects and reduce the number of people dropping out of third level degree courses.

“Ireland needs to follow this approach and provide students with alternative options for pursuing third level education. Degree apprenticeships need to be broadened and expanded. The Government needs to invest in such apprenticeships and promote their availability to students. Apprenticeships need to be seen as 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.”