Students who start college next year but get an improved course offer after appeal will remain eligible for “free fees” and SUSI grants as if they were starting college for the first time, under new government arrangements for the leaving certificate.
The government’s website says that under its new plans for the leaving certificate, students can still avail of €3,000 fees – not normally available to those starting a course for the second time – and can apply for the SUSI grant “as appropriate”.
The move comes as the government grapples to manage a situation fraught with uncertainty for students, schools and colleges.
Today, Minister for Education Joe McHugh announced that the leaving certificate – which had been pencilled in for July – has been postponed until the autumn at the earliest, with students given the option of sitting the exams and starting college a year late or receiving their marks based off “calculated grades”.
As a part of the appeals process, which stipulates that students unhappy with a predicted grade may sit an exam in the subject, the CAO will continue with the norm of subsequent rounds of offers.
Provisional results will be issued to the CAO in early September, meaning it’s unclear when colleges will be able to admit incoming freshers.
Calculated grades will be awarded to students on the basis of a number of factors – such as class rankings, students’ performance in previous assessments and other indicators.
While teachers appear to be primarily responsible for deciding these grades, the school principal and senior management will oversee the process and the grades will be filtered through a number of people before being finalised.
However, the later date proposed for sitting the leaving certificate exams will be too late for students to begin their chosen courses.
McHugh, who brought a proposal to adopt the new grading system to cabinet this afternoon, said the exams themselves could take place in the autumn, but added that it’s not yet clear when it will be possible to run them.
Meanwhile, Trinity has said that it is “too early to say” when first-year students will be admitted to College in the next academic year, after the government’s reconfiguration of the leaving certificate was confirmed today.
Vice-Provost Jurgen Barkhoff said at College Board last month that first-year students were likely to begin at the start of November, three members of Board told The University Times.
At a press conference announcing the decision today, Harold Hislop, the chief inspector of the Department of Education, confirmed that students who don’t opt for calculated grades will not be able to start college in 2020/21.