The head of the Irish Universities Association (IUA) has said it could be "well into next week" before the corrected results are sent through following revelations that errors in coding saw approximately 6,500 students receive the wrong Leaving Cert grades.
IUA Director-General, Jim Miley has said that universities and colleges will work with the Department of Higher Education to do everything to ensure that those are entitled to places can be accommodated.
When asked about the numbers involved, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that he did not know and IUA is awaiting further information from the Department of Education.
“The process has to run, the department has to supply the file of corrected results they then need to be run through the system to see how many of those are eligible for offers. I've heard estimates of the number that may emerge on that, but in reality, at this point, nobody knows.
“Once we know that number, the challenge is for universities and colleges to match those offers with places.
“The message we'd like to give students is that universities and colleges will work with the Department of Higher Education to do everything possible to find those places.”
Mr Miley added that based on the minister’s comments it would be the end of the week at the earliest before the corrected results are sent through.
“Then it takes a number of days to process those for the CAO and universities and colleges to make the offers available, so it certainly will be well into next week and could be the end of next week.
“But really the first hurdle on that is getting the file of corrected results, until that happens nothing will move.”
Mr Miley said the hope was that as many as students as possible would be slotted into places, the department and the HEA had funded extra places already this year.
“We're operating on the basis that they'll also fund these further additional places.”
There were certain courses that will face challenges because of the need for placements – mostly in the health sciences. The HEA was in discussions with the Department of Health about that, he said.
“The system will work very hard with the department to make this happen, until those numbers become more apparent, it is difficult to give a final picture.”
Earlier in the programme, the executive dean of DCU Institute of Education, Professor Anne Looney called for clarity on what form the Leaving Cert exam of 2021 will take.
Responding to the suggestion that all the students impacted would receive a university place, Prof Looney pointed out that for some courses there physically wasn’t the room for any more students.
Courses that require laboratories were already full and new labs could not be built quickly, she said.
“We could be saying to some students that they can have their place, but they will have to defer to next year.” That would give universities time to make the space.
“This is an unfortunate outcome of this error.” Students should know the details of their specific cases by next week, added Prof. Looney.
When asked if the Leaving Cert should have gone ahead in its usual format this year, Prof Looney said that had not been possible and that the CAO process “should keep going” with third round offers.