Written answers

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Third Level Admissions

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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218. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who did not receive an offer for a place on the course on their CAO applications due to places on such courses being offered to students who received inflated grades resulting from the coding error in the grade algorithm; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29690/20]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The Leaving Certificate system has a well-established practice of not reducing the marks or grades of students who have not appealed their results, but who through an appeal by another student or other systemic check are identified as somebody who received higher marks or grades than were merited.

In keeping with that principle, and mindful of the fact that the mistake was not the students’ mistake, students who received higher grades as a result of the errors in the Calculated Grades system will not be downgraded. The Leaving Certificate results of these students will remain unchanged as they do every year in these circumstances.

The CAO system operates on behalf of the higher education institutions solely on the basis of the Leaving Certificate results that candidates have been awarded.

Therefore, the CAO cannot differentiate within the group of candidates with the 2020 Leaving Certificate, just as the CAO cannot treat a 2019 Leaving Certificate candidate differently from a 2020 one. The CAO process for 2020 has been undertaken on that basis and there is no scope for the CAO to re-assess the selection of students for higher education programmes on the basis of any information that does not relate to the formal results of the Leaving Certificate in 2020 or any other year.

There has been an increase in the numbers of available places in colleges this year so that improved CAO offers can be made to all candidates who benefitted from upgraded Leaving Certificate results. There were also extensive additional higher education places in 2020 – the most places ever offered – and the Department of Further and Higher Education and the higher education institutions are fully committed to providing further places to accommodate all students who are entitled to improved CAO offers.

Of the 485 candidates who received improved CAO offers last week, some of them will move from one course to another and this will create the potential for further offers to other candidates in succeeding rounds of the CAO. This will mean an overall increase in the numbers of students in third-level education.


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