Wednesday 21 November 2018

Leaving Cert results, CAO offers and appeal outcomes to be released earlier following UCD student's landmark High Court case

Rebecca Carter won her case against the SEC in the High Court. Photo: Damien Eagers
Rebecca Carter won her case against the SEC in the High Court. Photo: Damien Eagers
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The release of Leaving Cert results, CAO offers and the outcomes of appeals are being brought forward next year.

A major overhaul of the timetable comes in the wake of the recent High Court case involving Co Wexford student Rebecca Carter.

Rebecca with her revised Leaving Cert results.
Rebecca with her revised Leaving Cert results.

The appeals process is being shortened by three weeks and next year, students will know the outcomes of rechecks between September 18 and 20, rather than October 10.

However, the shake-up is more extensive than that, and it also brings the earlier release of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers.

Next year, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will issue results on Tuesday, August 13, a day earlier than usual, while CAO Round 1 offers will be released on Friday August 16, three days earlier than normal.

And in order to allow time for the appeals process, third-level colleges have agreed no first year undergraduate academic classes will start earlier than the second week of September.

In the longer term it is anticipated that the planned movement of the exam marking system from a paper-based to an online model over the next three years could further improve the appeals timeframe.

Rebecca Carter took a case to the High Court this year when she discovered that the outcome of her appeal against a grade in her business paper would come too late for UCD to admit her to its veterinary degree programme.

There has been a trend in recent years of third-level colleges starting the academic year earlier, and this year UCD advised students that there would be no admissions after September 30.

In his ruling, Mr. Justice Humphreys stated that the current system was highly unfair to students and said he wanted to see changes for next year.

He also ordered the SEC to accelerate completion of the appeal process on behalf of Ms Carter, following which she was offered a place in UCD on September 28.

Education Minister Joe McHugh said there would be challenges in the implementation of  the changes, which would “require support and assistance from schools and examination correctors to ensure it can be done”.

But, he said he was confident that these changes, together with the measures being introduced by the higher education Institutions, would significantly improve the position for students who appeal their results from next year onwards”.

While the measures announced are a recognition of the need for improvements in the Leaving Cert appeals process and subsequent entry to higher education, the Department of Education and Skills and the State Examinations Commission said they would be appealing certain broad constitutional and legal issues raised by the High Court judgement and findings relating to aspects of the examinations system.

The Department said the High Court judgment contained findings in relation to a new constitutional right of access to higher education, which did not previously exist and which the Department considered was not correct in law.

“The Department wishes to have this issue fully considered by the Court of Appeal,” the statement added.

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