Ask Brian: My daughter is not fully registered for college due to Garda vetting delays

Many students are affected by child protection checks for some third-level courses

The Garda says  online vetting has a turnaround time of five or six days. Unfortunately this process is not yet in place in many third-level institutions. Photo: iStock

The Garda says online vetting has a turnaround time of five or six days. Unfortunately this process is not yet in place in many third-level institutions. Photo: iStock

 

Question: My daughter secured a place in the Social Studies (Social Work) degree programme in Trinity. When she went to register a month ago she was informed that Garda vetting was required. In the meantime, she has been advised to attend lectures, but cannot access the library or online content which is the bedrock of the course. She also cannot secure a student card, which would allow her to reduce her travel costs. What are her options?

Answer: The academic registry office in Trinity has advised me that your daughter’s dilemma is shared by students in a wide range of degree programmes including medicine, physiotherapy, dentistry, social care, nursing, etc. Trinity’s decision to deny registration to your daughter and all students in the above programmes is not shared by other universities who have registered students subject to securing Garda vetting.

If logic were to prevail in this process, the CAO handbook should indicate all courses where Garda vetting is required. Students selecting these courses could then apply for and secure their Garda clearance prior to commencing their course. Unfortunately, under the vetting regulations the college itself has to make the application on behalf of all the students offered places on the courses in question.

A Trinity spokesperson says prospective students in each of the relevant programmes must submit the required paperwork once they have been offered a place in late August. The registry office itself then has to process and collate all of this documentation. Only when all of the paperwork is checked is it then forwarded to the Garda vetting office.

A spokesperson for the Garda advises that paper-based applications will take from four to six weeks to process. They did point out that there is an online vetting process which has a much quicker turnaround time of five or six days, but unfortunately this process is not yet in place in many third-level institutions.

The situation that your daughter finds herself in after a month of the first term is totally unacceptable. To be, in effect, a visitor to her university with permission to only sit in lecture theatres is hardly satisfactory. Students cannot work effectively without access to all college academic facilities. The cost to the State and taxpayer of funding the third-level system demands that students not be denied access for weeks on end into their first term’s activities.

I would encourage the presidents and registrars of all of our third-level institutions to immediately put in place procedures to ensure all first-year students in 2017 who will require vetting can participate fully in their college academic and non-academic life

Natural justice would also demand that if Garda vetting were to deny access to any student to a particular programme that they be offered a CAO course further down their list of course choices. There still remains much work to be undertaken to deal with the full implications throughout the Irish education system of this necessary vetting procedure.