Rebecca Carter welcomed to cheers on first day as UCD vet student

‘Maybe I’ll straighten my hair so nobody recognises me,’ says woman who took case over Leaving results

Rebecca Carter with UCDSU president Barry Murphy and fellow students before starting her first day of veterinary medicine at UCD. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Rebecca Carter with UCDSU president Barry Murphy and fellow students before starting her first day of veterinary medicine at UCD. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

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Wexford student Rebecca Carter admitted feeling extra nervous about her first day studying veterinary medicine at UCD on Monday morning given the large media coverage of her case.

She seemed slightly bewildered by welcome celebrations organised by the UCD Students’ Union as she was greeted with cheers inside the student centre.

“Everyone’s going to know me but I won’t know anybody and that’s a bit weird. I’m looking forward to settling back in and maybe I’ll straighten my hair so nobody recognises me anymore,” she said.

Ms Carter won a High Court case last week after her Leaving Cert exam points were incorrectly added up by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) markers. She challenged its decision not to recheck her points score in time to allow her to obtain a place at UCD. Her business paper was subsequently upgraded meaning she exceeded the points needed to join the UCD class.

She described the weeks leading up to the final recount of her paper as “overwhelming” and said there were many low moments when she believed she had missed out on her dream of becoming a vet.

Happier times

“I’ve always loved animals and as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a vet,” Ms Carter told The Irish Times. She said her family had held a big party after her acceptance into UCD. “I’m happy that all the lows can come to an end and hopefully I will be happier in the months to come.”

Ms Carter hopes the SEC will respond appropriately to Mr Justice Richard Humphreys’ ruling when it comes to the time frame for rechecking Leaving Cert exam papers in the future. “It’s not fair on any student to be left without a college place when they deserve it and have the proper awards.”

Class representative for veterinary medicine, Aoife Hayes, said the whole class had been following Ms Carter’s case through the news. “I think it’s so brave what she did,” said Ms Hayes.

“It’s a tough thing to even think of doing because we’re so used to just going with the flow. I think the system is really unfair, a lot of people end up taking gap years over it and it’s a year gone. I know at the time it seems like nothing but it’s a year you’re not earning once you come out of college.”

Catch-up

Ms Hayes said her new classmate would be “well able” to catch-up on the month she had missed. “It’s absolutely worth her coming in now instead of waiting a full year. It might be a struggle but she’ll be well able.”

UCD student union president Barry Murphy said the court ruling should “set a precedent” in allowing future students to challenge their exam corrections without delay. “We have lots of students who are trying to get into veterinary repeating the Leaving Cert sometimes for the third time because it’s such a high points course and it’s the only place to study veterinary medicine in the country so we were admiring her the whole way through.”

Mr Murphy added that all universities should follow UCD’s example by extending the entrance deadline to September 30th for students who receive rechecks on their exams.

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