Innovative new degree pathway launched

A significant reform of the third level education system has been launched with more than 20 programmes available next year that will operate outside of the points system.

This means there are new pathways for people to access degree programmes and there will be no tuition fee or student contribution fee for the duration of the tuition delivered by the ETB on the Tertiary Programme.

23 new tertiary degree programmes for the academic year 2023/2024 have been launched by The National Tertiary Office (NTO). Established by the Department of Further and Higher Education in a joint initiative between the Higher Education Authority and SOLAS, the NTO was tasked with the development of new progressive pathways through further education to higher education which is central to the Government’s ambition of a unified tertiary education system.

A tertiary course is one that commences in an education and training board (ETB) and continues in a higher education institution (HEI), culminating in the award of a degree. There are 23 tertiary degree courses commencing in September across 11 locations and 5 fields of provision including business, ICT, arts, engineering, manufacturing & construction and health & welfare.

Minister Harris said: “This is the single biggest transformation to education access in decades. Today, we launch 23 degree courses outside the points system. We know the points system has not worked for many of our young people.

“Today, we can tell the next generation of students they can access degrees in nursing, business, engineering, and media without ever engaging with the CAO system. This is the start. We have much more to do but today, we change the system and ensure the learner is at the heart of all we do.”

President of MTU, Professor Maggie Cusack said: “At MTU, everything we do as a university is underpinned by a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. These tertiary degree programmes will provide more options for students, and open doors to individuals and groups that may previously have been underrepresented in further and higher education.”

Professor John O’Halloran, President of UCC, welcomed the launch of the tertiary degrees programme “which will provide pathways for students through further to higher education: opportunities that provide pathways that are student-focussed, rather than institutionally focussed, are warmly welcomed”.

The HEI and ETB partners collaborated closely on the development and shared delivery of tertiary programmes to provide students with a seamless transition from FET into higher education and a clearly defined learner pathway right through to professional practice.

Students interested in pursuing a degree through the new tertiary route should visit the National Tertiary Office website ( where students may apply for any of the 23 programmes on offer this September.

For the eligibility criteria and course specific entry requirements, refer to the course information section on the NTO website. General enquiries may be addressed to the NTO and course specific queries should be directed to the relevant tertiary coordinator listed on