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Going to college: Fewer choices without European language

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 1, 2016

This week, we look at an important question facing transition year and third year students as they make decisions that may influence their post-Leaving Cert choices.

Many people wrongly believe that if a student does not study a language for the Leaving Cert they will not be able to attend university or any third level institution. However, this is not the case.

Some schools allow students not to take a language at Leaving Cert, however, the decision to drop a language should not be taken lightly. Not having a language in the Leaving Cert can greatly impact on choices in the future.

Most third level colleges do not require entrants to have a European language in order to meet the matriculation requirement. At Trinity College Dublin students are required to pass English and another language, and maths or Latin. The matriculation requirements for Dublin City University are maths and English or Irish. University of Limerick requires students to present English, maths and Irish or another language. So, a student who does not take a foreign language at Leaving Cert should meet the requirements for these universities as long as they take Irish, or have an Irish exemption.

Institutes of technology generally expect students to have passes in English and maths so not choosing a language should have no impact on a candidate’s ability to attend one of these institutions. Post-Leaving Cert (PLC) colleges do not require students to have taken a language.

The NUI universities – University College Cork, NUI Galway, University College Dublin and Maynooth University – require students to have passes at ordinary level English and Irish. Students must also pass a third language to take courses in the arts, human science, law, social science, commerce, medicine and health sciences and some other degrees. Students are not required to pass a language for entry to engineering or agricultural science.

A modern European language will also be required for application to cadetships in the defence forces.

So, while not choosing a language will not affect entry to the majority of third level institutions, it will restrict choice, as students will be excluded from the majority of courses in the four NUI universities.

A student with an Irish exemption may apply for an exemption from the requirement to present Irish as a matriculation subject from their chosen institution. They may also apply to NUI for an exemption from the requirement to take a third language.

All Level 8 courses require students to achieve two C3s at higher level and four D3s at ordinary level, while Trinity College Dublin requires students to achieve three C3s at higher level and three D3s at ordinary level.

Irish Independent


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