Error adding up Leaving Cert marks a ‘disgrace’, student says

Rebecca Carter says decision not to recheck her results now will cost her a place in UCD

A student whose Leaving Certificate marks were wrongly totted up by an examiner has described the error, which has cost her a place in veterinary medicine at UCD, as a ‘disgrace’. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A student whose Leaving Certificate marks were wrongly totted up by an examiner has described the error, which has cost her a place in veterinary medicine at UCD, as a ‘disgrace’. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

An 18-year-old student whose Leaving Certificate marks were wrongly totted up by an examiner has described the error, which has cost her a place in veterinary medicine at UCD, as an “absolute and utter disgrace”.

Rebecca Carter has brought High Court proceedings against the State Examination Commission (SEC) over its decision not to re-check her results before mid-October, effectively costing her a place at UCD. The college decides its student allocation by the end of September.

Carter, of Castlebridge, Co Wexford, is also seeking an injunction against UCD restraining the college from refusing her a place on the course.

The SEC and UCD have opposed the action, which opened before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys on Tuesday, and deny any wrongdoing.

Previously, the court heard UCD had agreed not to allocate Rebecca’s potential placing until September 30th, allowing the court to deal with her judicial review of decisions to date relating to her exam results.

Opening the case on Tuesday Micheal P O’Higgins SC, for Ms Carter, said Rebecca repeated her Leaving Certificate exams in May 2018 and was just six points short of the required number in the first round of offers for veterinary medicine in UCD.

Wrongly totted

She was one point short in the second round. She sought a recheck of her business exam script, which revealed that the examiner had wrongly totted up the marks.

Had the error not occurred Rebecca’s final total points would have given her a higher grade in her business paper and she would have surpassed the points required for veterinary medicine.

When the error was uncovered the Commission was contacted and asked to have matters put right so she could take up her place.

She had been told the Commission could not correct the error until mid-October. If the mistake was not corrected by the start of October she would have to wait until 2019 to commence her chosen course.

Counsel said after the obvious error was discovered it was hoped that “common sense would prevail” and that “bureaucratic tape would be cut”.

Counsel said this was not the case and the SEC and UCD appeared to be blaming each other over the matter, leaving Ms Carter falling between two stools.

Rectified

Mr O’Higgins said it also appeared that the SEC’s policy is that if the totting up error had appeared on the front cover of the exam script, it could have been rectified outside the normal appeals process.

However, this was not possible because the adding up error was inside the paper.

The SEC’s decision, counsel said, is improper and irrational and should be quashed by the court.

Counsel said Ms Carter has been left without a place on this year’s course and her future career has been put on hold because of “somebody else’s mistake”.

The State Examination Commission denies it has acted improperly or irrationally.

It says any alleged error can only be corrected through the formal appeals process, and the error cannot be dealt with through the rectification process.

The SEC also denies that it has failed to have sufficient regard for Ms Carter’s rights and adds that the system it operates to deal with errors such as that alleged by her protects the interests of all examination candidates.

The case continues on Wednesday.