An estimated 1000 extra college places will need to be provided by colleges and universities across the country following a major error in the Leaving Cert Calculated Grades system, which left students with grades lower than they should have been awarded.
University College Dublin (UCD) has already increased its overall intake by 7% to adjust for the higher demand this year. 177 places were specifically added to adjust for the impact of using calculated grades in this year’s Leaving Certificate and an additional 115 places were made available through the Human Capital Initiative.
This will mark the third instance in which UCD administrative staff will need to issue extra places to address the issues created by calculated grades.
Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, confirmed that the CAO will treat any student affected as a successful appeal and that the agency will then check if there are places available on courses with higher points.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told party colleagues that the Government will “move mountains” to ensure students get the course they should have gotten originally.
Despite this, it has been alleged that Varadkar and Harris were aware about the issue late last week, prior to Round 2 offers being sent to students. The extent to which extra places would be required were said to not be known at that time.
It could cost the Government up to €10 million to fund the extra places.
6,500 students are set to have at least one Leaving Cert mark upgraded following the discovery of two computer coding errors amongst 50,000 lines of code which assigned students at least one lower grade than they should have been given.
The error affected the way in which the Junior Cert results were included in the standardisation process. Rather than accounting for Irish, English and Maths results combined with their two best subjects, they were calculated together with the students’ weakest subjects.
The Irish Second Level Students’ Union voiced particular concerns about students’ financial situations. They called for the reimbursement of deposits and instalments paid for accommodation which would no longer be needed.
Concerns remain on how these students will secure accommodation, particularly in Dublin-based colleges such as UCD, and how these students will assimilate into their courses three weeks into the teaching cycle.
The College Tribune reached out to UCD regarding the facilitation of these additional places but has not received a response by the time of publishing.
Oisin Magfhogartaigh – Reporter