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The treatment of A-levels in the Republic of Ireland's university admissions system is disadvantaging students from Northern Ireland, a new study suggests.

Maximum admission points can only be achieved by students who take four A-levels.

It is standard for Northern Ireland students to take three A-levels, with only an estimated 4% taking four.

Universities Ireland has set up a working group to look at the issue.

The new report has been produced by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in partnership with the Irish government's Shared Island Unit.

It said a modern language requirement for many university courses in the Republic of Ireland also disadvantaged potential applicants from north of the border.

The equivalent of A-levels in Ireland is the Leaving Certificate, which involves studying a wider range of subjects - typically between six and eight.

University applicants taking the Leaving Certificate can score the maximum 625 admissions points by achieving H1 grades in six subjects, including maths.

Applicants from Northern Ireland can only score maximum points if they achieve four A* A-level grades, including an A* in maths, further maths or pure maths.

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