Deferred college applicants: ‘It feels like my points are near worthless’

Grade inflation set to ‘devalue’ results for thousands of deferred third-level hopefuls

Until recently Joshua Kempton was confident that the 523 points he achieved in the Leaving Cert two years ago was more than enough to study engineering in UCD.

Having seen the scale of grade inflation under the new calculated grades process, the 20-year-old now feels his CAO points are "near worthless".

"With such a drastic increase in grades this year, it feels like years of my formal education appear to have be effectively wasted," says Kempton, from Blacklion on the Cavan-Fermanagh border.

Thousands of other deferred applicants like Joshua are worried that grade inflation will send CAO points soaring and they will miss out out on courses they would normally have qualified for.


For Joshua, he says he started a biomedical science course at UCD in 2018, but ended up withdrawing due partly to mental health reasons.

He has been looking forward to a fresh start this year, but now feels his first choice course will slip past him through no fault of his own.

“For me, engineering was securely within reach: 511 points were required last year. Though I did achieve 523 points in 2018, this year’s inflation has rendered my grades near worthless. My application simply will not survive the unprecedented competition.”

Tara (22) from Kildare also feels the 600 points she secured in last year's Leaving Cert means she may no longer qualify for dentistry.

She had been due to sit the Leaving Cert in 2017, but had to put it off when she fell ill with an auto-immune condition.

‘I was delighted’

After an extended period of hospitalisation and recovery, she eventually sat the exams in 2019.

“ I sat it and did much better than I expected, I was delighted with my results. However, I was so burnt out from having such a difficult few years of illness that I felt that I should take a year to focus on myself,” she says.

“I would have never even considered this an option had I known my points would be devalued.”

She says last year she had 10 points to spare to study dentistry; now she fears points will jump much higher than this.

“I worked really hard for my points and I do not believe it is fair or equitable for students in my position to be left at a disadvantage. We all have a different story. All we want is to compete on a level playing field.”