Friday, June 25, 2010

CAO surge as adults seek place in college

John Walshe (Education Editor of The Irish Independent) writes in today's paper about an increase in the number of over 23's seeking places in third-level. He reports that a record 14,606 mature applicants have sought places through the CAO out of a total of 77,126 applications to date. Walshe also reports that this increase in places comes at a time when the colleges are under severe financial pressures and have to reduce their staff numbers by 6pc over a two-year period. (In a side comment he expects this reduction in staff to be complete by the end of December). The article cites Dundalk IT as a popular place for mature students.

In the National College of Ireland we had great success in attracting mature learners returning to full-time education this past year - we had a significant increase in the numbers on computing courses. While many students have done well in their first year, some others have had a tough time re-adjusting to full-time education. Starting studies all over again sounds easy, but it's not. However, with our excellent learning support staff - the vast majority will pull though to go into their second year.

Mature students add a lot to a class. In semester II of the academic year just finished, I had a first year class that had a mix of students in the late teens and early twenties - to one guy who is older than me. The mature students are very good at attending classes, and paying attention. I find it a pleasure to have them in my class. I often think that it would be good for school leavers to work for a few years before going to College - I feel that they would get more out of it compared to going straight into College from school.

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