Universities say Leaving Cert results delay means first years will start college later

Plan for orientation weeks may be cancelled, Irish Universities’ Association warns

  Trinity College Dublin.  Universities have expressed ‘surprise and disappointment’ over delays in issuing Leaving Cert results which will force them to admit students to courses later than expected. Photograph: Getty Images

Trinity College Dublin. Universities have expressed ‘surprise and disappointment’ over delays in issuing Leaving Cert results which will force them to admit students to courses later than expected. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Universities have expressed “surprise and disappointment” over delays in issuing Leaving Cert results which will force them to admit students to courses later than expected.

They say plans to bring first years on campus for induction and orientation in advance of the return of main body of students may now be cancelled.

The Department of Education announced on Thursday evening that students’ predicted grades will not now be released until September 7th, several weeks later than normal. CAO offers are due to be issued four days later on September 11th.

The Irish Universities’ Association said the delay will add to the challenges faced by students, their families and colleges.

It said all universities are actively revising their plans to receive first-year students and orientation weeks for first years “may not now be possible”.

Provide clarity

The association’s’s director general Jim Miley said universities hope to provide clarity on college start dates as soon as possible and they will seek to arrange them as close as possible to those originally communicated to students.

Sources at a number of universities have said privately that first years may not begin courses until late September or early October, several weeks later than planned.

Mr Miley said: “The late publication of grades raises significant challenges for students and third-level colleges, but we do recognise the very challenging circumstances that have arisen following the decision to replace the Leaving Cert with the calculated grades system.”

The Union of Students in Ireland has also called for immediate clarity on when the new academic year will start and said the delay has caused yet more uncertainty for students.

USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick said the delay of the Leaving Certificate results announced on Thursday night was unfair on students hoping to start third level in the autumn who have already faced so much change and uncertainty this year.

“The turnaround time between the results coming out, CAO and UCAS offers being made and college starting is now extremely short, which heaps yet more pressure on students,” she said.

“This has an impact on every year group – students just don’t know what is happening. We need to know when the new year will start. How much remote learning will there be? How often will students be on campus? This just can’t drag on any more at this stage.”

She also criticised the manner in which this decision was announced given that third-level institutions were informed of the date while students and Oireachtas members were left in the dark.

“The Department of Education needs to seriously reassess their approach to decision-making on the Leaving Certificate and the value they place on engaging with students.”

Minister for Education Norma Foley said it is up to third-level institutions to decide if they should defer commencement dates to facilitate first-year students seeking accommodation.

Consideration

Ms Foley said she was confident the needs of students would be taken into consideration but that it was a matter for the third-level institutions.

The Minister also defended her decision not to reveal details of the postponed Leaving Cert results when questioned in the Dáil on Thursday saying she wanted to first inform the “variety of partners in education”.

Ms Foley acknowledged results being released in September will mean a short timeframe for students to find accommodation.

“We are living in extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary measures have to be taken. I absolutely want to acknowledge the patience of students, parents and teachers. I appreciate it is a stressful time, and I know this is a time of high anxiety,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.