Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, spokesperson on Education, and I have criticised the handling of the Leaving Cert results and college places that has resulted in new record high CAO points for many courses.
Students, parents and teachers have been through a really difficult year and should be proud of what they’ve collectively achieved.
Now they need to know that these young people are getting all they need to progress their education and careers.
I am disappointed to see that CAO points have continued to race upwards. This kind of uncertainty in the system adds additional stress and confusion for everyone involved, and is unsustainable.
Grade inflation an issue
Grade inflation of Leaving Cert results is one of the reasons for this. But the lack of sufficient places in high demand courses is also a cause.
The number of applicants to the CAO system increases every year. Yet this has not been matched by additional places in most popular courses.
Last year, additional places opened up after the announcement of results. The Minister needs to look at doing the same for courses that have seen high levels of demand.
Those students who worked very hard to achieve high points must benefit from headline announcements of extra course places.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire added:
“Today will be a day of celebration for many of the class of 2021, and rightly so. It has been an incredibly difficult two years for them.
“I am concerned, however, that many students who sat their Leaving Cert in previous years will have missed out of their first, second or indeed third-choice CAO courses today.
Not a level playing field
It is clear that there is not a level playing field for these students, given the significant points-inflation we have seen for entry to third level this year.
When these students made the decision not to progress straight to third level after their Leaving Cert, for whatever reason that was, they could not have foreseen the pandemic or the ramifications of the grade inflation from the accredited grading system on their CAO opportunities.
We have met with Minister Harris and put forward solutions that would prevent this unfair treatment of previous Leaving Cert students. Solutions are still possible, and I would urge the Minister to act here to safeguard these students’ futures.