Minister admits some students may miss out on courses due to grading error

Minister admits some students may miss out on courses due to grading error

Minister for Education Norma Foley

The Education Minister has admitted that there “may well be” some Leaving Certificate students who will not be able to start third level courses this year as a result of calculated grade errors.

Norma Foley has said no student will be disadvantaged as a result of the latest controversy, however, she signalled that places on courses may not be available this year.

Around 6,500 students have been impacted by two errors that were found in the calculated grades system which marked them down.

Ms Foley will make a statement in the Dáil today about the controversy.

She said it is now her "absolute commitment" that as many students as possible who were downgraded will get an offer for this academic year.

However, she could not rule out the possibility that some students may have to wait until 2021 to get a place on their preferred course.

Sinn Féin education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire hit out at the Minister and claimed it would not be fair to expect students to wait a year to begin third level education.

"I don't think we can expect students to spend a year in purgatory waiting for third level places."

"There are places on courses that these students are rightfully entitled to, that they had the points to achieve except for the error caused by the parent company contracted by the Department," he said.

The fault was identified by a contractor, paid €160,000 to oversee the function of predicted grades, on Tuesday of last week.

The contractor informed the Department of Education immediately but the public was only made aware of the mistake today after a debate in the Dáil.

Defending the fact that the information was not made publicly available until Labour leader Alan Kelly raised questions in the Dáil yesterday, Ms Foley said: "The only information available was that there was an error. Nothing further. And I think in the best interest of the students, it was hugely important that there would be clarity around what that error meant, who the students would be, who would impact what it would mean overall, and we immediately began that process."

She said she had first made aware of the mistake on Wednesday afternoon last week and the Taoiseach's office was also informed as was Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris.

"It was only when I had the fullest of information that I was in a position to deliver that," she told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

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