The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) expresses its disappointment at the unexpected announcement of the serious errors in the Leaving Certificate 2020 Calculated Grading Process. The ISSU is very concerned about the undue stress and anxiety this will undoubtedly cause students,however, we welcome the fact that these errors have been found and that the Department of Education and Skills’ have now committed to rectify this immediately. Our focus is on supporting the students and engaging in communications with the Department to mitigate the drastic impacts these errors will have – we want to see this resolved.
Following this announcement, the ISSU is calling on the Department and Minister for Education and Skills to ensure that students are communicated with immediately and given the necessary information and support. Clear timelines surrounding the issuing of new grades and updated CAO offers should be established as soon as possible to minimise this additional stress and uncertainty. Students will all receive a text informing them of the errors and if their grades have been affected.
The ISSU feels very strongly that students who have been affected by these errors, which may result in a change in their grades and subsequently the points received, should be given the opportunity to enter any new course offer in this academic year. Additional places should be allocated where necessary to allow for this. This is vital to assure the Leaving Certificate students of 2021 that they will not be disadvantaged further by reducing places available in courses in September 2021.Students who may now be offered a different course through the CAO must be afforded the same transitional support from higher education institutions as current first years have received. CAO applicants who received no course offers in the initial rounds but who may now be entitled to a place in higher education must be ensured that their course choice list is accurate on the system and offered a place on the course they should be rightfully awarded. Furthermore, the deadline of October 2nd for registering to sit the Leaving Certificate Examinations 2020 is not substantial enough to allow students to consider their options having not received clarification on these errors or appeal results.
The ISSU has particular concerns about the financial situation students may now potentially face as a result of a change in their position in higher education. Urgent clarity is needed surrounding SUSI grant holders who may now be offered a change in their course of study after already receiving a college place and processing fees. Financial assistance will be required for students who missed out on a place in college initially and will now potentially be entering college. The ISSU also believes that students who have paid deposits / installments for accommodation places which are no longer needed should be offered full reimbursements in the interest of fairness. ISSU President Reuban Murray Commented; “This is going to have a very real and serious impact for a lot of students, we need to ensure all education stakeholders work together to make sure that the financial and mental impacts of these errors are mitigated and addressed because it wasn’t the students fault that this happened. We welcome the fact that these errors have been found – but now we need to address the impacts of them.”