Colleges 'increasingly concerned' at uncertainty over Leaving Cert and CAO dates

Colleges 'increasingly concerned' at uncertainty over Leaving Cert and CAO dates

College registrars are growing “increasingly concerned at the lack of certainty” around the Leaving Cert and CAO processes this year, warning that delayed results could impact the next academic year.

The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), which represents the country’s technological universities and institutes of technology, has written to the Minister for Education Norma Foley on behalf of its colleges’ registrars.

A date has not yet been released for when students will get their Leaving Cert results this year, or when the first round of college places will be issued through the CAO.

Both 2020 and 2021 saw results and the first round of offers issued to students much later than in previous years due to changes to the traditional exam format.

The impact this uncertainty is having on Leaving Cert students facing into exams and for institutions attempting to plan for the new academic year is “significant”, warns the letter, which is signed by THEA chief executive Joseph Ryan and Sheila Flanagan of Dundalk Institute of Technology.

“We ask that a decision is forthcoming so that the planning process for all concerned, intending students and academic institutions, can commence without delay.” 

While the THEA understands the reasons for the delay, the sense is that the “fullest ramifications and the possible unintended consequences are not fully appreciated in the system,” the letter reads.

“Institutions have managed through two difficult years as a consequence of the unavoidable pressures attaching to Covid. 

“We had [the] opportunity this year to steady the ship and offer all students, new and returning, a more managed and even commencement.” 

However, instead, colleges face “further uncertainty with consequent difficulty in planning". 

Delayed results imply delayed entry into higher education and the necessity to run dual timetables for new and returning students, it added.

“This presents quality assurance issues in relation to a shorter semester for first years, examination pressures, and the late publication of timetables for all students,” it said. 

The Leaving Cert exams are due to begin on June 8. A second set of exams will run after the main exams for students who missed out due to illness or bereavement.

In February, Norma Foley told students they would not be penalised as she ruled out accredited grades for 2022, and pledged that results for exams would not go down compared to last year.

Minister for Education Norma Foley. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos
Minister for Education Norma Foley. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Last night, her department said deferred sitting of the examination and the fact that the outcomes of the 2022 exams will on aggregate be no lower than the outcomes in 2021 both impact on the Leaving Cert result date.

It also said sufficient time must also be allowed for "the range of checks and quality assurance procedures which are required in the resulting process to ensure that the highest standards possible are maintained".

It said the State Examinations Commission has and will continue to work with the Department of Further and Higher Education, representatives from the higher and further education sector and other education stakeholders to provide further updates on the Leaving Cert results. 

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