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My son wants to go to UCD but is weak at Irish. Could this put his college hopes at risk?

Applicants to any NUI constituent colleges should check out the matriculation requirements

My son is looking at college course options in Dublin. He was told to be careful about the need to satisfy “matriculation requirements” for entry to UCD, especially in Irish which is his weakest subject. Yet, these don’t seem to apply to other colleges he’s looked at. Could you explain why?

UCD is a constituent college of the National University of Ireland (NUI) and is governed by its matriculations requirements, which must be met before any considerations of CAO points scores. (Other constituent NUI colleges include UCC, University of Galway, Maynooth University, RCSI, St Angela’s, NCAD, among others.)

Under the relevant matriculation requirements you need six Leaving Cert subjects with a minimum grade H5 in two subjects and H7 or O6 in four subjects. These should include English, Irish, and four other subjects.

A third language must be included among the other subjects for most degree programmes in arts, human sciences, law, social science, commerce, medicine and health sciences and some other degrees.


For commerce, the subjects presented must include maths, and for courses in the sciences (such as science, agriculture, engineering, food science and technology, medicine, dentistry and health sciences, veterinary medicine) maths and a science subject.

Within NUI colleges some students may qualify for an exemption from Irish because they were born outside Ireland, they received a lot of their education outside Ireland, or they have a learning difficulty affecting language learning, such as dyslexia. Where applicable, you need to contact NUI – by email, by phone 01 4392424 or in writing.

If you have got an exemption from Irish in school, you still need to contact NUI about this. If you don’t contact NUI, CAO won’t know about your exemption, and you will not get an offer.

If you got an exemption from NUI in a previous year, but you are only doing your Leaving Cert in 2023, or if you are repeating the Leaving Cert in 2023, you need to contact NUI again to let them know your CAO number.

If you don’t do this, CAO will not know about your exemption, and you won’t get an offer. This happens to numerous applicants every year.

When you contact NUI, make sure you give them your own contact details, mobile number and email as well as your address so they can get in touch if necessary. Please give them an email address that you look at regularly. They will email or phone you if there is any problem that needs to be sorted out.

Students with specific learning difficulties may apply for exemption from the third language requirement. Full details of all NUI matriculation entry requirements and exemption regulations can be found at online (