Students can appeal the decision of the State Examinations Commission
An increase in the detection of suspected cheating in this year’s Leaving Cert exams has resulted in 62 students having results permanently withheld by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
This figure – which includes candidates from the Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied – represents more than double the 26 results that were permanently withheld from Leaving Cert students who sat the exams last year.
However, it is down compared to the pre-pandemic exams, when 71 students who sat the 2019 Leaving Certificate were not given their results over suspicions they cheated.
The SEC also confirmed that it has provisionally withheld an additional 10 Leaving Cert results, on a without-prejudice basis, pending further communication with the schools and candidates concerned.
The 62 exam results “permanently withheld” by the SEC this year “includes full results withheld, or marks withheld, from candidates found to be in breach of the SEC’s examinations regulations”.
Referring to the 62 students to have results withheld this year, a spokesman for the SEC stated: “Due to the small number of candidates involved, for privacy reasons, we do not provide any regional or gender breakdown.”
It is a tiny fraction of the 60,210 candidates who registered for the Leaving Certificate examination this year and the 3,173 candidates who registered for the final-year examinations in the Leaving Certificate Applied.
The SEC spokesman said: “The most common penalty applied is the withholding of the result in the subject in question.
“Where a more serious breach of the regulations occurs, such as copying in more than one subject, withholding of all results and/or debarring from repeating the examination may be applied.
“Withholding of results occurs as a consequence of a candidate attempting to gain advantage in the examination by means which contravene the regulations for the conduct of candidates during examinations, as set out in the Rules and Programmes for Secondary Schools.”
Cases of suspected cheating can come to light in a number of ways, according to the SEC.
These include where an examiner may detect similar work from more than one candidate when correcting work from the same centre.
Cheating may also be suspected if an examination superintendent detects a candidate using prohibited items such as books or a mobile phone, or attempting to contact another candidate in the centre.
The SEC spokesman explained that candidates whose results were withheld are “invited to offer a response to the evidence presented and the school authorities are also free to offer comment if they consider it appropriate”.
“A decision to withhold a result is open to appeal,” he added.