Universities have issued a warning that having a hybrid Leaving Cert this year could lead to more students missing out on first-choice college courses due to the increased use of random selection.
As The Irish Times reports, students, parent groups and many head teachers have demanded that Leaving Cert candidates be given the choice between teacher-assessed grades and taking the exams in June due to the disruption. of their education caused by Covid-19.
However, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) has warned the government that teacher-assessed grades will lead to grade inflation and higher CAO points. That, he says, means students who score high are at risk of missing their first-choice college courses.
“We understand the desire of students to have a hybrid approach to Leaving Cert, but this would create equally difficult issues for more advanced students,” said IUA CEO Jim Miley.
“This means that a significant number of students will get their exam results later, and more places in colleges will be randomly allocated. This has consequences such as unfairness for students and greater pressure on housing.
Pól Ó Dochartaigh, vice president of NUI Galway and chairman of the CAO, also expressed concern that a hybrid system would mean some students could end up at university never having been tested on a state exam.
It is estimated that around 25% of this year’s Leaving Cert candidates did not take the junior cycle exams on the grounds that the exams were canceled in 2020 and they did not have a transition year.
“That means some will go to college without ever having taken a state exam. Do they expect to graduate without an exam? What kind of preparation is it? There are pressure points in life, not just in school or college, where you have to perform. This is all preparation for this,” he said.
Mr Ó Dochartaigh said he was not surprised that students supported a hybrid model when offered the choice in a recent opinion poll.
“If you tell someone you can get a good price by doing a review and a better price by not doing it, they’ll go with the latter,” he said. “If we admit students who really haven’t been tested, some, really, won’t be able to cope. Are we giving them false hope and losing another year or two of their life?