Disappointed but not surprised, stressed beyond belief, and “very slightly hopeful” are some of the mixed feelings the class of 2020 have about this week’s revelations about their Leaving Cert results.
Approximately one in ten students received a grade lower than they should have due to two known errors. “It’s crazy when you think about it,” one incredulous student said.
The Irish Examiner contacted some of the students who featured in its 2020 exams coverage throughout the year. Among them was Alicia O’Sullivan from West Cork who is now a first-year student in University College Cork (UCC).
“We thought it was all over, the stress of not knowing, and that the endurance of it all was behind us and then this happens to come out, so it is disappointing,” she said.
It would be “extremely unfair” to leave students waiting indefinitely, she added. “For anyone who didn’t get their course after the first and second rounds, it’s just heartbreaking to hear this and they still don’t really know what’s happening.”
Reports that some students may not receive an offer for a course this year are very worrying, she said, adding that there are many students still waiting on appeals, or who already felt their results weren’t fair or as accurate as they should be.
“On results day, there was kind of a consensus that things were pretty good,” she added. “Some people were disappointed obviously, but it was very different compared to the UK when they got their results, where it was a very different situation.
"Then the CAO came out and everything seemed relatively ok, maybe too good to be true looking at it now given the year we had. If colleges are full up, then there could be so many more problems to follow. It’s not right at all.”
The Irish Examiner also spoke to Ronan Cloney, from Wexford, earlier in the summer. He applied to this year's CAO with Leaving Cert results from 2019.
Many students in his position missed out on their preferred course due to this year's grade inflation in the calculated grades system, he told the Irish Examiner this week.
"There are so many things gone wrong, and they are now facing this and have acknowledged that they made a mess of it.
"I am happy with where I am now but I know there are others who were in a similar position who are very unhappy.
"I think what has happened is actually ridiculous, and the students should be looked after.
"There should be something to fix that totally. But also they are able to rectify this with more places, but when we were asking about extra places we were told there weren't even ten places for us on some of the courses. We were told it was on the outer limits of what the college system could hold.
The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) has called for clear timelines surrounding the issuing of new grades and updated CAO offers following the Department of Education's reviews of its errors.
It has also expressed concerns about the financial situation many students may potentially face as a result of their change in position in higher education.
ISSU president Reuban Murray said: "This is going to have a very real and serious impact for a lot of students. We need to ensure all education stakeholders work together to make sure that the financial and mental impacts of these errors are mitigated and addressed because it wasn't the students' fault that this happened.
"We welcome the fact that these errors have been found but now we need to address the impacts of them," he added.