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Grant fears as Leaving Cert grades and college now delayed

Student concerns over accommodation as results won't be issued until September


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There are fears of a knock-on effect for student grants as the Leaving Cert results and CAO offers have been delayed until September.

The Department of Education last night confirmed calculated grades for 60,000 students will not now be issued until September 7, three weeks later than usual.

This means the first round of CAO offers cannot be sent out until September 11.

News of the delay has been met with widespread criticism. Parents' representatives told the Irish Independent last night that the anticipation which was already building for results day is now being replaced by further stress and anxiety.

And the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) warned that the delay would have an impact on the approval of SUSI grants and students' ability to find accommodation.


Calculated grades ‘will be fair’: Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Calculated grades ‘will be fair’: Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Calculated grades ‘will be fair’: Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Having declined to give any clarity around the timeline for results while taking questions in the Dáil yesterday, new Education Minister Norma Foley last night issued a statement after Independent.ie revealed details of the delay.

She said more time was needed to ensure the calculated grades system could "operate seamlessly with the CAO system and Ucas in the UK".

Addressing students, the minister said: "All of this means that you have certainty that you will be able to use the grades to move on to the next phase of your life, either in work or ­further study, in the autumn."

About four in five school leavers who have applied for a college place have done so through the centralised, CAO application system.

Because of the disruption to education caused by the coronavirus, third-level colleges have already pencilled in later reopening dates. However, due to the latest delay, these dates may have to be pushed back further.

The cohort most likely to be affected would be first years, who must await, and decide on, their CAO offers.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) last night warned the delay will have an impact on SUSI grants and student's ability to find accommodation.

President of the USI, Lorna Fitzpatrick, said: "The rug was pulled from underneath Leaving Cert students with the flip-flopping on the decision about holding the Leaving Cert or not, and now this is yet another issue that adds to the stress and anxiety that they're already facing."

Ms Fitzpatrick said there are now concerns about the inevitable impact the delay will have on students' ability to plan their college lives.

In the last academic year, SUSI, the national student grant awarding authority, processed almost 96,000 applications with more than 76,000 students awarded funding.

SUSI is a means-tested grant intended to support students in higher or further education. Last year, figures released by SUSI showed the most common type of grant received by students was the '100pc non-adjacent' grant.

This was given to applicants with a household income of €39,875 or less and an address at least 45km from their college. These students had their fees paid in full and received monthly payments of €336.11.

SUSI opened its application process for student funding for the upcoming academic on April 23. Ms Fitzpatrick said the priority deadline for SUSI applications, July 9, now needs to be revised.

The union wants the priority deadline for SUSI to be revisited and extended.

"What we're calling for is for that priority deadline to be extended so that students can apply after that point but would still be considered a priority application. It would provide people with a little bit more time and in what is a whirlwind of a situation, between being told one thing and then being told another."

Ms Fitzpatrick added students have been "through the mill" and the delay in results and CAO offers is another issue for them to deal with.

Ms Foley said the portal for students to confirm they wish to receive calculated grades will open from Monday, July 20 at noon.

"Calculated grades will provide you with a formal record of your work and achievements in second-level school. They will be fair and reliable, and will be accepted by employers and colleges," the minister said.

"I know how important and exciting this 'moving-on' phase of your life is to you, and I am determined to enable you to do that.

"So, when you receive a text message next week, please respond and opt-in to receive your grades on the portal," she added.

The Department of Education has said that all students whether they opted to receive the calculated grades or not, will have the option of taking the Leaving Certificate examination later in the year.

Meanwhile, the National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCPP) said the delay in results and CAO offers would cause added stress and anxiety for students.

President of the NPCPP, Mai Fanning, told the Irish Independent: "From our point of view, this is three weeks later than had been anticipated by the students and by parents and I suppose that in itself brings an extra amount of stress in that the timelines have been shifted yet again.

"There was nothing said prior to this to give an indication that the results are not going to come out as normal, it had been constantly stated that the results would come out within as near to normal time as possible.

"I think the communication line to students and parents could possibly have been clearer in just giving the facts straight so everybody knew where they stood."

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