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Feasibility study in admissions

This year Trinity is pioneering a feasibility study in admission to see if there is a better and fairer mechanism to identify and admit applicants who are enthusiastic and passionate about learning, motivated and suitable for their chosen courses, and with the academic ability and potential to be inspired by everything that college has to offer. The admissions scheme tested in this study will adopt a holistic approach that has worked successfully internationally, using a range of materials to make an assessment about the academic ability and potential of each applicant.

The new admissions route will be used to admit students on three courses – with ten places in History (TR003), ten places in Law (TR004), and five places in Ancient and medieval history and culture (TR028) filled using the new admissions routes. Applicants to any of the three courses involved in the study will have the option of using the new admissions route, and submitting some supplementary materials (in which case they will be eligible for all of the regular places on the course filled in the traditional way, as well as the places set aside for the study), or opting out of the study, in which case they will remain eligible for all of the places allocated in the traditional way. Students applying for two or more of the courses in the study will only have to submit the supplementary information once.

The feasibility study is being operated in partnership with the Central Applications Office (CAO) and all applications will be made completely anonymous before evaluation, to ensure the process is free from any external influences. The three scales (or modalities) which will be used to assess applicants in the study are as follows:
(a) Leaving Certificate results.
(b) Relative Performance Rank (RPR) – the performance of the applicant relative to other applicants from their school. This scale looks at the rank of the applicant compared to every other applicant from their school who has applied to any course, in any college, through the CAO.
(c) Personal and Contextual Data – provided via supplementary materials submitted by the applicant.

Names of applicants, any identifying information, and the names of schools attended, will be made completely anonymous before being evaluated by the review panels. Applicants will be required to provide supplementary information requested in a Trinity Application Form. This information must be submitted online through the CAO before 1 February 2014. Applicants are asked to submit an honest piece of self-reflection, discussing what they would like to study, and why, and this is what will be evaluated. Grammar, vocabulary, or writing style will not be scored.

The feasibility study is an attempt to inform broader educational change by providing options to assist in the development of national policy. The study is an attempt to see whether, on a small scale and in a strictly controlled way, it might be possible to admit students using a range of assessments (including the Leaving Certificate), with the results published and shared throughout the sector. It recognises the importance of having a Leaving Certificate examination that is fit-for-purpose and supports the reforms that are currently underway at secondlevel to ensure a more positive educational experience. It also recognises and values the great work and commitment of the teachers at primary and second-level throughout Ireland.

The new admissions route tested here seeks to complement the role of the Leaving Certificate and the teaching community, by working with the Central Applications Office (CAO) to examine whether some approaches which have succeeded internationally might also work in an Irish context.

The application guide is available to download.


Last updated 10 October 2013 by admissions@tcd.ie (Email).