Ireland: Centre for Talented Youth Ireland (CTYI)


The Centre for Talented Youth Ireland (CTYI) is based at Dublin City University, a new institution awarded university status in 1989. It has over 11,000 students and offers some 80 undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Various world university rankings place DCU in the lower 300s.

CTYI was established in 1992, running its first summer programme the following year. Its mission statement says that it:

‘aims to allow all talented students to reach their potential both academically and socially by providing relevant and interesting challenges based on ability and interest rather than age’.

CTYI is affiliated with the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA. It has an advisory board comprising a mix of Irish academics and business people as well as a CTY representative.

Its Director is Colm O’Reilly, appointed in 2005, There are two Academic Co-ordinators, Eleanor Cooke and Catriona Fitzgerald, plus several administrative staff.

Prior to 2009, the Irish Department of Education provided an annual subsidy to CTYI which had reached 97,000 Euros, but this was withdrawn in the 2009 Budget. The overall CTYI turnover is around one million Euros, derived predominantly from fees for courses and assessments. The Irish Government had planned for CTYI to become a ‘national mandate’.

The Centre identifies eligible students through a differentiated assessment process:

  • 6-7 year-olds take tests in abstract and verbal reasoning lasting one hour;
  • 8-13 year-olds can take tests in abstract, verbal and mathematical reasoning lasting two hours, though children only need to qualify in one of these areas;
  • 12-16 year-olds can take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) which assesses verbal and mathematical reasoning. Entrants need to meet defined age-related standards to qualify. They must also have a parent or teacher recommendation, or present evidence of notable achievement in a regional or national competition reflecting high ability in an academic area, or a recent standardised aptitude or achievement score report demonstrating performance at or above the 95th percentile in mathematical and/or verbal reasoning. Candidates who perform particularly well on the PSAT are awarded merit scholarships

All students can alternatively submit an independent assessment by an education psychologist.

Qualifying learners can access enrichment-based classes provided at DCU and at other centres across Ireland.

For 6-13 year-olds, these include:

  • taster days (20 Euros)
  • half-day and day-long courses (150-230 Euros for eight sessions)
  • week-long summer schools (170 Euros)
  • correspondence courses (100-150 Euros)

12-16 year-olds successful in the PSAT are eligible to attend 3-week summer courses costing 850 Euros (commuter) and 1,700 Euros (residential). These cater for up to 250 students annually. The majority are from Ireland but there are also overseas students, including several from the USA.

CTYI has also developed, in partnership with the Access Service at DCU, a Centre for Academic Achievement (CAA) after-school programme for primary pupils from disadvantaged areas of Dublin. Participants undertake enrichment sessions in subject areas that they would not normally encounter in their schools, with a view to encouraging them to aim towards a university education. The Centre is currently developing a follow-on secondary school programme in partnership with Ireland’s largest law company, Matheson Ormsby Prentice.

The Centre for Academic Talent (CAT) programme is designed for primary and secondary students who score in the top 10% of CTYI assessments for their age group. They can access Saturday sessions and a two-week summer school. There is also a two-week DCU Summer Scholars activity enabling learners in the 4th and 5th years of secondary school to sample degree-level study. In 2010, three strands were offered, covering biological and chemical science, engineering and computing, and law and government.

Over 4,000 learners benefit from CTYI’s services annually. Courses are run at CTYI and from satellite centres in Cork, Limerick, Tralee, Wexford, Athlone, Galway and Letterkenny.

CTYI staff are engaged in research including:

  • the effect of CTYI courses on the academic and social development of participants;
  • acceleration and dual enrolment (CTYI offered a dual enrolment option from 2008-10 enabling school students to take first year university modules);
  • effective support for disadvantaged gifted students

CTYI also runs an annual conference, the most recent in March 2011, focused on Meeting the Needs of Gifted Children. Presentations from the 2009 and 2010 conferences are available on the website.

The CTYI Wiki provides a students’-eye perception of the summer activities, including sections on Traditions CTYI discos and CTYI slang!

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