Does my son’s exam upgrade mean he can switch college?

Ask Brian: He can move to a higher preference after an upgrade – if there are spaces

UCD has allowed students with upgrades to be accepted on to courses after September 30th this year on an “exceptional basis”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

My son narrowly missed out on his first preference in the CAO – engineering in UCD – and is now studying engineering at DIT. He recently got an upgrade in his English paper following a recheck, which means he should have enough points for the original UCD course. Does he still qualify for this place?

I contacted UCD regarding your query and I am pleased to advise you that they have received your son’s amended Leaving Certificate result and his points score – 509 – is now above the cut-off for engineering. This means he is entitled to receive an offer.

You may be aware that, as the academic year starts in early September, UCD does not make any offers for the current year after September 30th.

This means that for the appeal outcomes received in mid-October, eligible applicants can only be given a deferred place for the following year.


However, in light of a recent High Court case – which recommended a reform of the timeline for examination results and appeals and in the interests of fairness to other 2018 applicants – UCD, on an exceptional basis for 2018, has decided to offer places to upgraded students.

This is on the basis that places are available on the course; where places are not available, the university will offer deferrals to the academic year 2019/2020.

As no places are available on the engineering course, they are offering you a deferred place for entry in September 2019. This offer will issue in July 2019 provided you reapply to the CAO when it opens again in early November.

Also, be sure to also let UCD’s admissions department know your 2019 CAO number.

‘Free fees’

Although students are not usually permitted to defer and attend another third-level institution in the intervening year, in your circumstances this would be permitted.

UCD has also been instructed by the Department of Education that choosing this option of deferral will not affect your entitlement to “free fees” with respect to next year.

You might consider, given that you will probably have successfully completed your first year undergraduate engineering programme in the DIT by September 2019, whether you wish to contact them relating to the possibility of transferring directly into the second year of their engineering programme.

Alternatively, at that stage you may be more than happy to continue your engineering studies at DIT.

Meanwhile, the State Examinations Commission is reviewing the appeals process for Leaving Cert grades, in conjunction with the department and third-level institutions, with a view to reforming the system in time for next year.

On foot of the court ruling, it is likely they will have to fast-track the appeals process so students receive their appeals much sooner. It may be possible to do this using technology or hiring extra examiners. It is only right that candidates get their results sooner given that many – such as your son – have to wait a year before taking up their course. ]