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Maynooth University

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 6, 2015

Students of the future at Maynooth University could, for instance, match geography with biology, chemistry with economics or physics with philosophy throughout their undergraduate studies – if that is what they want to do.

Maynooth will be the first university to offer such flexibility, allowing students to customise the degree programme to their own interests and needs.

It is one of a range of curriculum reforms being introduced at Maynooth, including a significant reduction in the number of entry routes, from 50 to about 20, as the college moves to simplify the CAO process.

The cut in entry routes does not mean less choice, but that students would go into a common first year such as engineering or science, and would delay decisions about specialisation.

A trend among third-level colleges in recent years of creating niche courses as a way of attracting students is blamed for driving up points and it is being tackled as part of wider moves to take the heat out of the points race.

The redesigned curriculum at Maynooth will be phased in from this September and will be fully implemented for students starting in 2017.

The changes will also see a radically different approach to first year, with students having the option of taking a module in core skills such as critical thinking and analysis and clear communication and writing.

As well as breaking down the barriers between disciplines, students will also have options such as taking a language as part of any degree, and modules in areas outside their own core subject(s).

Some of these modules are designed as interdisciplinary studies and will include topics such as global environmental change, drawing on a variety of perspectives to examine a particular issues.

There will also be greater emphasis on study abroad, work placement and volunteer opportunities and the use of electronic portfolios to capture students’ achievements over the course of their degree.

Maynooth University president, Professor Philip Nolan said it was hard to imagine what the world would be like towards the end of the present century, “but we believe our role as a modern university is to prepare graduates for a future replete with unknown opportunities and challenges”.

He said their reforms were designed to empower students to think clearly and critically, to adopt a broad perspective, to adapt to new situations.

Irish Independent

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