Request for a downgrade cannot be entertained


As the dates for viewing marked Leaving Certificate scripts approach, the helpline has received some interesting and occasionally bizarre questions.

There was the student who wanted a downgrade so she could get her second choice. Then there was the student who wanted to bring in all eight subject teachers to help him review eight papers. He also wanted more time to view these scripts as he was looking at so many.

The Department cannot help either candidate. Students can only bring in one adult to each viewing session and the three-hour time limit applies no matter how many papers you want to review. As for the requested downgrade, it's up to the candidate to find some serious error overlooked by the examiner.

There still remains the thorny question of the papers which students cannot view prior to appeal. These are the subjects which included a practical, project or oral component. In essence, students must still make an appeal for a recheck on the same terms as last year. So, why do the new rules, whereby students can be downgraded, as well as being upgraded, apply in these subjects?

From next year, students will be allowed to review all of their marked scripts prior to appeal. Surely, it would be fairer to bring in the new rule on downgrading for all subjects then and reserve it, this year, for the 19 subjects you can view prior to requesting a recheck?

CAO vacancies

Students without the offer of their choice may be cheered to hear that there are now six degree programmes and 32 certificates/diplomas advertising vacancies through the CAO vacant places procedure. If you have already applied to the CAO there is no further fee and you do not need to complete a further application. Write to the CAO informing them of the desired course or courses and quote your CAO application number.

Applicants for vacant places must meet the normal minimum entry terms for the course in question. There are specific subject requirements for certain courses. If you accept an offer of a vacant place it automatically cancels and supersedes any previous offer or acceptance.

If you have not applied to the CAO already, you can still apply for vacant places but you must write to the CAO to request an application form and pay an £18 fee. Write to the CAO at Tower House, Eglinton Street, Galway.

Degree vacancies:

American College: international business (fee paying) Carlow IT: computer networking UCD: arts (modular); arts (single subject) (fee paying) TCD: information and communications technology; business and Chinese.

Diploma/certificate vacancies:

Portobello College: computing (fee paying) LSB College: business studies (office information systems) (fee paying) Carlow IT (Kilkenny campus): business studies; office information systems Carlow IT (Wexford campus): business studies; office information systems Dundalk IT: electronics (product development); civil engineering; construction studies; manufacturing engineering; mechanical engineering; biology; food science; chemistry; environmental science; applied cultural studies (French); applied cultural studies (German) Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology: computing multimedia; business studies Letterkenny IT: accounting technician; corais eolais oifige; European languages and business; civil engineering; electronics; mechanical engineering NCI: computing Sligo IT: civil engineering; mechanical engineering; electronic engineering; science; analytical chemistry Waterford IT: chartered accountancy

Carlow IT open day

Carlow Institute of Technology has organised an information day on Friday from 2.30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Prospective students and their parents are invited to visit the institute and obtain information on course outlines, subjects, assessment procedures, ESF grants and the cost of going to college. Separate information days will be held at the college's outreach centres: the Kilkenny campus, Seville Lodge, Kilkenny, will have an information day on Monday, September 7th, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. while the Wexford campus, St Peter's College, Wexford, will open its doors from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8th.

Clearing in Britain and Northern Ireland

The clearing process, whereby vacant places in third-level colleges in Britain and Northern Ireland are advertised, continues. Yesterday's British Independent contained lists of thousands of courses with vacancies.

It is very important to research these courses. The paper simply publishes a list of colleges and course codes, divided into various subject areas. For instance, Middlesex University is listed under veterinary science but this course is for intending veterinary nurses. It is not veterinary medicine.

On-campus student accommodation

With the scarcity of accommodation this year, you would be forgiven for thinking that students who have been lucky to secure on-campus accommodation should be delighted. Unfortunately, judging from calls to the helpline, the situation is not so straightforward. Students who have not been offered their first preference are worried about paying deposits for accommodation and then receiving a better offer in a different college in the second round. The colleges, in turn, are allocating scarce accommodation and it is understandable if they want a deposit at this stage.

In UCD, there were up to 750 applications for accommodation which can cater for 400 first years. The completed application form together with a £200 deposit, had to be in to the Belfield office by Friday, last week, at 5 p.m. According to a spokeswoman, so many people follow the correct procedure that anyone who is late with the form and the deposit or anyone who sends in an application form without the deposit was not included in the lottery which was completed last weekend. Students who win a place in the lottery but who decide to go to another college forfeit the whole deposit. The money is sent back to those who did not secure a place in the lottery and the application is kept on file in case of cancellations.

NUIG: Students had to have a completed application form plus £200 and their first moiety (amount depended on room size) sent to the Corrib Village in NUI Galway by Tuesday this week. They will be notified of their success or otherwise by letter "as soon as possible" . If a student gets an offer in another institution and is not able to take up residence at Corrib Village, their moeity and £150 of the deposit will be returned. The remaining £50 is kept for administration purposes. The situation is similar in NUI Maynooth where students who change their minds, on account of a round two offer, will get £200 of their £250 deposit back.

In UCC, the university's own on-campus residence, Castle white, has been booked out for over three months. There is a long waiting list. When there's a cancellation, those at the top of the list are given a room. A spokeswoman for Castlewhite, said that students who do not wish to take up their offer of accommodation will have £50 of their £75 deposit refunded if they contact the office before Monday, September 7th.

Additional reporting by Catherine Foley