May 8, 2020

‘Too Early to Say’ When Freshers Will Start College, Says Trinity

The government's website has identified late September or early October as a date for when college courses will start.

Cormac WatsonDeputy Editor
Eavan McLoughlin for The University Times

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.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh today announced the government’s decision to introduce “Calculated Grades” – which will be decided by teachers based on the previous performance of students – while also giving students the option of sitting the leaving certificate at a later date.

The government’s website says that while it “can’t be specific” about what date first-year students will start college, it will likely be in late September or early October.


Tom Molloy, Trinity’s director of public affairs and communications, told The University Times this afternoon Trinity was still working through various issues caused by the new leaving certificate format and could not say when first years will start college.

The move will change colleges’ plans for the date of their re-opening. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in April – while plans to hold the leaving certificate over the summer were still in place – that incoming freshers were likely to start their college term “in October or November”.

In Trinity, 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, Harold Hislop, confirmed that students who don’t opt for calculated grades will not be able to start college in 2020/21.

“The candidate will be able to take up their place in the following academic year”, he said.

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 said: “I have made every effort to run the 2020 leaving certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held.”

“Let’s call a spade a spade – I have massive reservations around this”, he said. “This is not a perfect solution.”

But he added that “in a final analysis, the interests of the students must come first”.

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