Leaving Cert students will have to wait until Friday, September 2nd to receive their results.
The later date, compared to the traditional mid-August timing, will delay the start of the academic year for thousands of first-year students by several weeks and result in a last-minute scramble for accommodation. CAO or college results are expected to issue to candidates several days after the Leaving Cert results issue, possibly on September 5th or 6th, according to higher education sources.
The State Examinations Commission (SEC), which confirmed the release date on Thursday, said a number of “challenging” factors have affected the timing of the results.
They include the running of deferred exams for Covid-19 reasons and emergencies, a shortage of examiners to mark the written exams and fulfilling a Government pledge that results overall would be “no lower” than last years.
“The SEC has an absolute responsibility to examination candidates to ensure that their work is marked to the highest standards of quality and integrity and the commission must be able to stand over the results it issues each year,” the commission said, in a statement.
The Department of Education said it has been in contact with its international counterparts to ensure Irish students hoping to study abroad will “continue to have all options available to them”.
In relation to applications to UK colleges, the department said this year’s results will still allow students who are seeking places in the UK and elsewhere to meet relevant admission requirements.
Ucas, which oversees applications to UK colleges, said that while August 31st was the original advisory date for all academic offer conditions to be met, this has been now extended to September 7th, allowing Irish students five working days to provide their results to universities.
“Any student who is worried that the Irish results day of September 2nd will impact their offer/s should contact the university admissions department directly to discuss any concerns they have,” a Ucas spokeswoman said,
Minister for Education Norma Foley acknowledged the importance of clarity for students and parents on the announcement of a date for the results.
“I was conscious that we are still journeying through Covid and every student should have the maximum opportunity to showcase their talents and if they were impacted by Covid, it has always been my belief that there would be a second opportunity for them,” she said.
Most universities, meanwhile, have been forced to change the start of the academic year for first year students. Many had been planning to commence teaching or orientation weeks on either September 5th or September 12th. These dates are now being shifted back.
UCD has, for example, pushed the start of classes for first years back from September 12th to September 26h. Many others including Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway, UCC, UL and DCU are also likely to delay the start of the academic year.
Given that first years will begin college about two or three week later than other students, there are concerns they will feel the brunt of accommodate shortages. UCD has confirmed that it is setting aside 1,000 of its on-campus accommodation units for first years.
The SEC said the results this year will issue to candidates through its online candidate self-service portal and will direct communication to candidates by email about the planned date for issue of the Leaving Cert results.
The Irish Universities Association, which represents eight universities, expressed dissatisfaction over the later results, but said members will do their “utmost” to help those affected.
“First year students will be at a clear disadvantage on finding accommodation due to the delayed results,” it said in a statement. “It is imperative that the Minister and Government plan now for earlier Leaving Cert exams and results, starting in 2023, so that students and their families have sufficient time to make what are life-changing choices and to avoid unnecessary stress on students.”
This year’s Leaving Cert exams are due to finish on June 28th, with a second sitting taking place shortly afterwards to facilitate students who missed exams due to Covid-19, a serious medical condition or a close family bereavement.