Courses with vacant places on CAO website

This evening thousands of Leaving Cert students will review exam scripts at their former school

If you did not receive a satisfactory offer in yesterday's second round CAO application process your options in the current academic year may be narrowing, but there are still courses and options available.

The list of vacant-place courses will continue to be published on the CAO website over the coming weeks, and for as long as course places continue to be on offer.

Any existing or new applicant who has not secured a suitable course in yesterday's round of offers can over the coming week place any of the remaining published "vacant places courses" on their application record on the CAO website, and receive an offer of a place on that programme.

Exam scripts
This evening thousands of Leaving Cert students will review one or a number of their exam scripts at their former school. This process will continue all day tomorrow.

Students who have applied to view scripts may bring a second person, normally a subject teacher or parent, with them.


Pay attention to the percentage mark you achieved as opposed to the grade you have been awarded. Your chances of securing an upgrade are highest if you are within 1-2 per cent of the next grade.

If you discover an administrative error in the awarding of the marks which have been written on your answer sheet by the correcting teacher but not correctly transcribed into the totals column at the front of your answer book bring this matter to the attention of the supervising teacher.

Such administrative errors are rectified by the SEC and communicated to the CAO without having to seek a remarking of your script.

If, having viewed your script, you decide to seek a remarking of one or more of your papers you must submit it to the SEC by 5.30pm on Wednesday, September 4th.

The fee per standard Leaving Cert subject, refundable in the case of a successful appeal, is €40.

The fees are payable by bank giro form provided by the SEC or by credit card over the internet. You will get this giro form in your school.

The SEC says many candidates return their appeal form without proof of payment; either the stamped personalised bank giro if paid at the bank or the internet confirmation record if paid online by credit card. Such incomplete applications can invalidate the appeal request.

If the recheck leads to a higher grade the payment will be refunded.

In 2012 appeals against 8,779 grades brought about 1,684 upgrades, a success rate of just short of 20 per cent.

Week to consider
If you were offered a CAO place yesterday you have a week to consider whether you wish to accept or reject the place.

Any places not accepted by the September 4th deadline will continue to be offered by the CAO to applicants over the coming six weeks.

Students who receive upgraded Leaving Cert marks will receive revised offers following the publication of those results in mid-October.

When the SEC publishes the amended Leaving Cert results in October, the CAO will make offers to all applicants who would have secured a higher ranking offer if they had those points on August 19th when round one was published.

Most students who wish to accept such higher choice offers will probably have to defer these places as half of semester one will have passed by that stage.

The length of time it takes to provide students with the amended Leaving Cert results is a matter of some controversy but, given the sequencing involved in remarking the scripts, it is difficult to see how they can be provided any earlier.

PLC courses
Thousands of places on PLC courses have been freed up in the past few days as students who had applied to both the CAO and their local PLC college have opted to accept their CAO offer.

Their acceptance of these places frees up opportunities in the PLC sector, providing you with opportunities to progress if you failed to secure a satisfactory offer in their area of interest through the CAO.

Many of these courses link back into level 8 and 7/6 courses in the CAO, which you can apply for in January next year, using your Fetac award as your entry qualification.

Alternately, some PLC programmes offer direct entry to excellent employment opportunities so check out the courses available in your locality on

There is one particular group of students who have failed to secure a satisfactory offer from the CAO. These are those who have applied to level 8 programmes where they have sufficient points but have secured only one grade C at higher level.

Three options
These students have three options.

They may repeat the entire Leaving Cert to improve their overall performance, and reapply to the CAO next year hoping to secure two Cs at higher level plus a higher points score.

Students may alternatively simply repeat one or more Leaving Cert subjects to secure a second higher C to facilitate entry to one or more level 8 programmes.

Unfortunately under the rules of the CAO they can only use this year’s points score, and may not have enough points for the courses they are interested in when the offers are published next year.

Finally, they can use their existing Leaving Cert result to seek a PLC course and progress through that route.

Class of 2013
As the class of 2013 leaves the second-level system and progresses into higher and further education, the school system gets back into full swing next Monday.

With over 70,000 children entering primary schools for the first time, and 60,000 transferring into second level, the education system is straining at the seams, facing a €100 million cutback in October’s budget.

Add to this the scenario the fact that the unions ASTI and TUI have yet to sign up to the Haddington Road agreement on pay and conditions, and may yet opt for industrial action, and the education year ahead could become very eventful.

The Irish Times will, of course, cover every aspect of the unfolding story on our education pages on Tuesdays throughout the year.

Brian Mooney

Brian Mooney

Brian Mooney is a guidance counsellor and education columnist. He contributes education articles to The Irish Times