Frustration as delayed Leaving Cert results may cut university term short

Students say release of results in September will spark last-minute scramble for accommodation

Universities, lecturers and students have expressed frustration after it emerged that this year’s Leaving Cert results could be released in early September once again.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said on Wednesday that the “best estimate” from the State Examinations Commission for the release of the 2023 Leaving Certificate results is the same date as last year.

While Leaving Certificate results are traditionally issued in mid-August, they have been released in September for the past three years due to Covid-related factors.

This has led to delays for first-year students starting college and a last-minute scramble for college accommodation.


The Irish Universities Association (IUA) said releasing the results this late would impact negatively on thousands of first year students.

“All other countries that we know of around Europe have realigned their exam results post-Covid. Ireland has singularly failed to do so,” said Jim Miley, the association’s director general.

“We understand the challenges that the State Examinations Commission is facing. One of the reasons for delayed results is the holding of a second sitting of exams, which is being done on the basis of fairness. But, is it fair to delay results and college entry, and all that flows from that, for the 99 per cent of students on the basis of fairness to the other one per cent?”

Another higher education source said the late release of results would shorten the first semester for students and limit the ability of colleges to provide orientation for new arrivals.

“This really is doing our heads in, because it reduces the first semester from 12 weeks to nine. This is an important time for students as they get to grips with coursework. This is affecting the quality of their education,” the source said.

Ms Foley told an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday that she has been informed that a key reason for a likely delay in results was the need to hold a second set of exams in July for students affected by illness or bereavement.

She said she was conscious of demands placed on the State Examinations Commission in recruiting examiners this year and said it was the “right decision” to have another second sitting of the Leaving Cert in July.

While she said it was too early to announce a date for the results, she said: “I have engaged with the SEC. Their best estimate is the date that was achieved last year. I continue to engage with them. They are currently reviewing the structures of last year, in particular the availability of correctors which obviously is essential to the process.”

Students also expressed frustration on social media over the knock-on implications of late results in trying to find accommodation in mid-September, when other students are already back to college.

One source said a coalition of students and the third level sector have unsuccessfully been seeking a meeting to discuss the importance of earlier results in 2023 since last September.

Ms Foley said on Wednesday that the SEC was working hard to recruit teachers to work as examiners and will be doing all they can to ensure the results will be issued as soon as possible.

“At this stage, I don’t think it’s possible to give a date, that is a matter for the SEC. I have engaged directly with them on it,” she said.

Research undertaken by academics at Trinity College Dublin for the State Examinations Commission has found that it is unusual to provide deferred exams for candidates in large-scale exams in other jurisdictions.

Instead, most countries that run end-of-school exams tend to provide predicted grades or other forms of special consideration for candidates who miss them for health or bereavement reasons

The option of providing predicted grades instead of deferred exams for Leaving Cert students was one of a number of options which had been under review by education authorities in a bid to speed up the delivery of results.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent