Leaving Certificate students should receive results no later than the end of June, so that they can make rational decisions about higher education within a reasonable time frame, according to the Irish Universities Association (IUA).
The IUA will tell a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Leaving Certificate Reform that it wants the current timeline for delivering results immediately changed.
In his opening statement to the committee, IUA director general Jim Miley says it is “firmly of the view” that the current Leaving Certificate timeline is no longer fit for purpose.
“The timing of Leaving Cert results is a particular problem, even in normal years," Mr Miley will tell the committee.
"Results in mid-August mean that first college offers can’t be made until week three of August at the earliest.
"Second and third round offers come well into September, often after college courses have already started.
"For students who appeal Leaving Cert results, their college offers can arrive a number of weeks into the college year."
It also creates difficulty for those applying for courses both in Ireland and abroad, as most other countries in Europe and the UK give college offers in July or even earlier.
Students may feel compelled to accept an offer abroad for fear they won't get a place in Ireland come August.
“We propose that students should be in possession of their Leaving Cert results no later than the end of June of any given year,” says Mr Miley.
“This would allow the CAO to process these results and for offers and acceptances to higher education to be completed before the end of July.
"This would allow students to make rational choices regarding their preferred study options and enable them and their families a reasonable time period to make the necessary practical arrangements, most especially those regarding accommodation, fees and grants.
This process would also allow for the Leaving Cert appeals process to be completed well before the start of the academic year."
The IUA says the revised timeline is feasible if more emphasis is placed on continuous assessment rather than the traditional final written examinations.
It says a move away from the focus on final examination could also benefit students less suited to a written exam.
"The heavy weighting of the final exam in the Leaving Certificate is still far too great” says Mr Miley.
"The universities advocate strongly for more authentic assessment across all subjects that genuinely reflects the learning and thinking of the student.”
The IUA also calls for an immediate return to pre-pandemic stability of the CAO points system.
“The points system has been designed on the basis of stable grades but the Covid-induced changes over the last two years have de-stabilised the results trend.
"In 2019, 207 students achieved a maximum score of six H1 grades; in 2021, this had grown to 1,342 students, an increase of over 600%.
"This has distorted the entry threshold to third level with a particular inequity to applicants presenting results from earlier years,” says Mr Miley.