Q&A: I’m a Leaving Cert student, what does the delay with my results mean for me?

Q&A: I’m a Leaving Cert student, what does the delay with my results mean for me?
Leaving Cert results will be issued on Monday, September 7, three weeks later than normal.

What is happening with the Leaving Cert?

Thousands of students will get their leaving cert results on Monday, September 7, three weeks later than usual.

In May, Joe McHugh, the previous Minister for Education, had indicated students would get their results as close as possible to the traditional date in August.

So why are the Leaving Cert results delayed?

It’s still unclear. Norma Foley, the new Minister for Education, said it has to do with the standardisation process, which is being carried out by the Department of Education. More than 450,000 individual grades have to be prepared and checked.

These outcomes need to be reviewed using different demographic characteristics which will include gender and socio-economic status to ensure that the grades are as fair and equitable as possible, according to Ms Foley.

“I want to make sure that this work is done rigorously – so that the results of Leaving Certificate 2020 are of the same high quality and reliability as the results in any other year," she said.

“This work is so important for students – we need to take the time it takes, to get it right."

When was this announced?

The Department of Education released a statement last night confirming the dates for this year.

Did schools know about this delay?

No. The majority of schools submitted their data for students’ calculated grades to the Department of Education by the end of June.

Some schools had expressed reservations around how students would get their results this year. As teachers and principals were involved in awarding students’ marks, some were concerned about what would happen if students were unhappy.

But the announcement that results were to be given to students much later than usual has taken a lot by surprise.

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD during a session of Dail Eireann at the Convention Centre, Dublin. Pictue: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD during a session of Dail Eireann at the Convention Centre, Dublin. Pictue: Gareth Chaney/Collins

How does this affect me?

The Minister for Education says the delay won’t affect first round offers from the CAO, or the UCAS system.

But many universities and colleges have already announced that first year students were due to start around the end of September.

This leaves a very short turnaround time, just a little over two weeks, for students searching for accommodation.

There’s also a lot of uncertainty around appeals, which will now open on September 14.

It's not quite clear how this whole process will work when it comes to offers. Students who are unhappy can still sit the exams when they are rescheduled.

However, this won’t be in time for college this year.

This delay is also likely to affect students who are planning on studying in Europe, or abroad.

Could this affect other students?

We don’t really know yet, but it could. Many universities and colleges have indicated that returning students will begin college after first years.

This is to give first-years a bit of extra time on-campus, and a start at college as close as possible to a normal freshers week.

Whose decision will that be?

The Minister said it will be a decision for each individual college if they chose to defer the start dates for first years.

What next?

From Monday July 20, students will be asked to register for calculated grades through the online portal. Students can opt to sit the written exams instead. A date for these exams hasn't yet been set, but the Department has indicated it could be in November.

What has been the reaction to this?

It hasn’t been good. The Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) said it was not consulted about this delay.

Politically, the reaction has been swift. Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on Norma Foley to return to the Dáil to answer questions.

“A stressful time for many families has been made a lot more stressful because of this revised timeline,” he said.

Sinn Fáin education spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the delay raises serious questions about how the new third level year will work and when it will commence.

“We need real clarity now on how this announcement is going to impact on the beginning of the new third level year and what this means for students who have applied for third-level places in other jurisdictions; many of whom have been offered a course and are awaiting their results to secure their place.”

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