The majority of universities are now “actively revising” plans for receiving first-year students this year due to the confirmation that the Leaving Cert results will not be issued until September.
It also may not be possible for first-year students to attend induction and orientation ahead of the return of the main body of students due to this delay.
Leaving Cert students are set to receive their results on September 7 and their first-round offer from the CAO on September 11, three weeks later than usual.
Many universities and colleges had planned for first-year students to begin at the end of September, just over two weeks from this revised date.
The seven universities represented by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) have expressed “surprise” and “disappointment” with the timing of finalising grades.
While the Department of Education has faced unique challenges this year due to Covid-19, this delay presents challenges now for students and families, the representative body said in a statement.
All seven universities it represents are actively revising their plans to receive first-year students due to this revised date, it also confirmed.
"It had been hoped to bring in first years for induction and orientation in advance of the main body of students," the IUA said in a statement.
"That may not now be possible. Our universities will continue to place a priority on the health and safety of our students with a now more challenging prospect for our reopening.
Jim Miley, the director of the IUA, said the focus of universities now is to give clarity to students as “early as possible.”
"Each university will quickly finalise their revised plans based on the delayed date for grades release," Mr Miley said.
"Our priority is to ensure that first year students are given the necessary welcome and induction and to ensure the safe return of all students to campus.
"The late publication of grades raises significant challenges for students and third level colleges but we do recognise the very challenging circumstances that have arisen following the decision to replace the Leaving Cert with the calculated grades system.
"Our resources and expertise are available as always to assist in this regard.
"We will continue to work with government departments and student representative bodies in order to ensure the best possible outcome for students."