The majority of universities are now “actively revising” plans for receiving first-year students this year, following confirmation that the Leaving Cert results won't 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.
On Friday, the Irish Universities Association (IUA), which represents seven Irish universities, expressed its “surprise” and “disappointment” that Leaving Cert results would be issued to students on September 7.
Many colleges had announced first-year students would begin their induction during the last week of September.
It had previously been indicated that students results would get their results as close as possible to the usual date in August.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI), and the Irish Second-level Students’ Union (ISSU) have also expressed frustration that students were not consulted as part of this.
The ISSU was not informed or included in the recent decision on the Leaving Cert results. We are extremely disappointed and will be seeking urgent clarity on all concerns. pic.twitter.com/hLnYSQgV5R— Irish Second-Level Students' Union (ISSU) (@issu4u) July 16, 2020
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 IUA said in a statement.
“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 give students clarity around start dates as “early as possible.”
“Each university will quickly finalise their revised plans based on the delayed date for grades release.”
“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.”
Meanwhile, the USI called for clarity on when the new academic year will start for colleges and universities, and if more students will be affected by these delays.
"This has an impact on every year group," said Lorna Fitzpatrick, USI president.
"Students just don’t know what is happening. We need to know when the new year will start.
“We are also calling for the SUSI priority deadline to be extended so that students who apply now can still get priority status in light of all that has happened.
"It would take a little bit of pressure off students who have been repeatedly been told one thing would happen, and then another. They need some support and certainty now.”
The Irish Second-Level Students' Union said it was disappointed to not have been included in the discussion about the results before it was announced.
"With the release of results being delayed by three weeks, this will undoubtedly have a negative impact for some students in their ability to prepare for the transition to the next step in their education."
Thousands of students this year will receive their Leaving Cert results on Monday September 7.
They will then receive their first-round of offer of a college place through the CAO on Friday September 11. Appeals applications will open on September 14.
If a student is unhappy with their calculated grade, or opts not to receive calculated grades, they may sit an exam.
A date has yet to be set for this exam, but it is hoped that they can be held during November.
However, this will not be in time to receive an offer of a college place for the incoming year.
From Monday, students will be asked to register for calculated grades online.