Major Expansion of Degree Courses Outside the Central Application Office process.

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has announced a major expansion of degree courses outside the Central Application Office process.

The degrees start in a further education college and are completed in a university setting.

Minister Harris said:

“Today is the deadline to apply through the Central Application Office for a place in higher education institutions and we all know the stress and the pressure that places on young people.

“Today I have a very clear message to students filling out that form that there are other options and alternatives to the points race.

“Last year we launched the first degree courses outside the points system. Today we double the offering for students.

“These courses offer an alternative to the CAO system. They are aimed at ensuring the points do not determine your education choices or your career opportunities.

“Last year we started these programmes with a small number of courses and today we announce that more than 40 options be available in 2024.

“I hope this sends a clear message to young people considering options after school, you can be a nurse, engineer, work in ICT or construction without worrying about your points.”

Major Expansion of Degree Courses Outside the Central Application Office process

These courses include degrees in:

Applications are open from today for the first set of programmes, with further programmes to be added in the coming weeks.

Minister Harris added:

“This is the second year of programmes. We continue to learn as we roll out this new delivery of third level education.

“Next year we will introduce a single portal outlining the array of opportunities for people of all ages seeking third level education.”

The programmes are available in further education institutions all over the country, and in areas such as nursing, creative arts, engineering and ICT. Details on all courses open for application are available at

The call for proposals has also identified a pipeline of programmes for development for September 2025, with the initiative expanding into the traditional university and specialist college sector.

2025 programmes have been proposed by the University of Limerick, University of Galway, National College of Art and Design, Mary Immaculate College and University College Cork.

The proposed programmes will also be in areas of strategic skills need such as Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sustainability and Early Childhood Education.

Dr Fiona Maloney, Director of the National Tertiary Office, said:

“The Tertiary Degrees are the most exciting and transformative initiative happening in our education system.

“This student centred degree route supports the diversification of professions, addresses the geographical gap in Higher Education delivery, removes the stress of the points race and provide new opportunities to access your chosen career.

“The full complement of Tertiary Degrees will be available over the coming weeks, applications will remain open from February 1st until mid-September through”

Steven Galvin

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