Bonus points scheme for higher-level maths
Last week's announcement by the Council of the Irish Universities Association that they will operate a bonus points scheme for higher-level maths in the Leaving Certificate for a four-year trial period from 2012 should be carefully noted by students who have just started fifth year, because they will be the first cohort to be affected by it.
The council has endorsed a scheme which it describes as "simple and transparent", whereby a bonus of 25 points is awarded to all students who score grade D3 or above in higher level mathematics. The scheme will be reviewed in 2014.
There are strongly divided opinions on the bonus points issue. However, the new scheme may encourage students to take Maths at higher level, but since the bonus is the same whether you get an A1 or a D3, it may not encourage everyone to work very hard at the subject.
Meanwhile, last week's publication by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) of the appeal results in the 2010 Leaving Certificate marked the last major event of the 2010 results and colleges offers season. A total of 5,929 candidates appealed 10,333 subject grades this year, and 2,110 upgrades were awarded. Just eight appeals resulted in a downgrade.
The number of candidates appealing one or more subject grades in their Leaving Certificate examination has ranged from 11.76pc of all Leaving Certificate candidates in 2005, to 10.5pc in 2006, 11pc in 2007, to 12pc in 2008, and finally to 9.18pc in 2010. On average they appealed about two subject grades each, and the total percentage of upgrades (to appeals) awarded has ranged from 22.58pc in 2005, 19.49pc in 2008, to 20.44pc this year.
Q Does everybody who becomes entitled to a higher-preference offer get one?
A The answer is: yes, but in some cases there may be difficulties.
All colleges guarantee students a place on their course of higher preference after an upgrade entitles them to it, but in some courses, where numbers are tightly controlled, or where the term is several weeks under way, the college may only be able to promise a student a place on the course next year.
All upgraded results were communicated to CAO, because the majority of Leaving Certificate candidates were also CAO applicants. After CAO recalculated the points of those applicants awarded an upgrade, it identified about 370 applicants who were entitled to new offers, and the relevant institutions authorised those offers last week.
If a college cannot accommodate them until next year, the students may continue on the course they had started without losing their entitlement to free tuition fees in the first year of the new programme.
The question remains, however, could the appeals results not be issued earlier?
The SEC works to a tight timetable on this, and as they explain, there seems to be little room to manoeuvre. But one would wonder could it not be speeded up in some way. Everything else in the system has speeded up.
Open days Tomorrow, the Open University is hosting information sessions in Dublin City Centre Library, ILAC Centre, Henry Street, Dublin 1 from 5-8pm, and in Drogheda Library, Stockwell Street, Drogheda from 6-8pm, and on Saturday, in Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Mahon Link Road, Mahon, Cork, from 9.30am-5pm.