349 get college places after grade changes

By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

College places have been offered today to 349 students who received an upgrade of one or more Leaving Certificate results this week.

It is unclear how many of them will be able to start those courses as many colleges will instead ask them to defer their studies until next year as programmes have already been running for up to six weeks.

The final Central Applications Office (CAO) offers are issuing this morning after the spotlight was focused over the past month on the timing of the appeals process for Leaving Certificate students and consequences for the ability of some who become eligible for a college place as a result.

Wexford student Rebecca Carter secured an order from the High Court late last month to have the rechecking of her business studies exam fast-tracked as she was at risk of foregoing a place on a veterinary medicine degree at University College Dublin for a year if the appeal result was not issued by September 30.

On foot of Mr Justice Richard Humphreys’ criticisms of the appeals timeline and its effects on students depending on the outcome for possible college offers, a review is under way by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), in collaboration with third-level colleges and the Department of Education.

On Wednesday, the SEC notified appeal results to 5,197 students who had appealed one or more grades issued with their provisional Leaving Certificate results in August.

It has awarded 1,453 upgrades, a success rate of one in six from the 9,087 individual grades that were appealed.

But, like in other years, only a portion of those who benefited became eligible for a CAO offer by virtue of the points gain through their improved Leaving Certificate scores. The offers are predominantly on courses leading to honours (level 8) degrees, accounting for 313 of the 359 places being offered today.

The 349 recipients include 10 people offered a choice of two courses, one from their list of level 8 degrees and one from the list of level 6 or 7 programmes for which they applied.

The likelihood is that many of these students will not take up those courses as a result of the offer, either by choice or because of college rules on late registration.

Like with Ms Carter’s degree in UCD, many college courses close for new entrants by later September for a range of reasons, but largely due to several weeks having elapsed since students began classes. With growing numbers of third-level colleges now preferring semesterisation and continuous assessment over only end-of-year exams, the volume of course content already covered may dictate against late entry by students in mid-October.

In such cases, students who receive a late offer are generally given the choice to instead defer entry to their course until the next year.


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