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Hybrid Leaving Cert could lead to more students missing out on their first choice of college courses.

Having a hybrid Leaving Cert this year could lead to more students missing out on their first choice of college courses. That’s the opinion expressed by universities.

Covid-19 has disrupted education for a lot of Leaving Cert candidates, so they're calling for both teacher-assessed grades and June exams. But the IUA (Irish Universities Association) has warned the Government that teacher assessment may lead to grade inflation and higher CAO points, so high-scoring students may miss out on their first-choice college courses.

The IUA's director general, Jim Miley, said, "We understand students want a hybrid approach to the Leaving Cert, but it will result in just as many challenges down the road."


The result is that a lot of students will get their exam results later, and more college spots will be handed out randomly. 

The deputy president of NUI Galway and chairman of the CAO, Pol O’Dochartaigh, also expressed concern that some students might end up in college without ever having taken a State exam. About 25 percent of this year's Leaving Cert candidates didn't sit Junior Cycle exams because the exams were cancelled in 2020 and they didn't have a transition year.

According to Mr O’Dochartaigh, “That means some of the students at university will not have ever sat a State exam. Do they expect to get a degree without exams? What kind of preparation is that?”. “There are pressure points in life, and this is preparation for those pressure points,” he added.


In a recent poll, Mr. Dochartaigh wasn't surprised students were in favour of a hybrid model.

He said,  “If someone knows they can get a good prize doing an exam and a better prize by not doing it, they will do the latter.” "If we admit students who haven't been tested, some, genuinely, will be unable to cope. Are we giving false hope to them and waste another year or two of their lives?"


"Everyone wants to do their best for school leavers, but stakeholders have different ideas about how to do it." he said. "We need to do right by students. It's not just about this summer. It's about their long-term future." Dochartaigh said grade inflation from a hybrid system would put CAO points up, which would be unfair to high scorers. If you're really good, there's not much further you can go up points-wise. So, you get joined by other students who wouldn't normally perform at that level. Which creates unfair competition and bunching up," he said.

Another state test planning group will meet soon amid calls from students for a hybrid Leaving Cert this year.


Minister Norma Foley said she was "very aware" that pandemic-related disruption was affecting students taking State exams this year, and that she was committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders in education in the short term.

Students' unions and parents' groups say that most people want a hybrid option for the Leaving Cert this year: a choice between accredited grades and sitting the exams.


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