Sir, – It would appear the slow erosion of the CAO points system is continuing, with the recent news that Trinity College Dublin is to pilot a new admissions system (Home News, January 14th). The ad hoc replacement of the anonymous, objective CAO points system with one that is much more subjective is an issue that should receive more scrutiny.
There are many politicians and educators that have made statements about the need for new admissions criteria to “broaden” access to education, with very little clarification of what sort of social engineering they have in mind, or any objective evidence to support the contention that the current admissions process is unfair.
In fact, I fear what is meant in many instances, is that the current system is unfair to many students who might otherwise get in on a nod and a wink.
In previous generations, access to higher education and professional training in Ireland was rife with classism, sectarianism and many other conscious and unconscious prejudices. The points system is immune from all these factors. It is one area of Irish life that is entirely objective and meritocratic. The only way a student can get access to his or her desired course is through academic performance. Family connections and income level provide no advantage.
Anyone interested in equality of opportunity and social mobility should strongly support the CAO points system and be deeply suspicious of changes which introduce personal statements, interviews, internships, etc, which are inherently subjective and will favour students from well-off and well-connected family backgrounds. – Yours, etc,
Inchicore Square South,