Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education Rose Conway-Walsh TD and spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD have criticised the handling of the Leaving Cert results and college places that has resulted in new record high CAO points for many courses.
Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“Students, parents and teachers have all been through a really difficult year and should be proud of what they have collectively achieved.
“Now they need to know that everything is being done to help these young people to progress in their education and careers.
“It is disappointing to see CAO points have been allowed to continue to race upwards. This kind of uncertainty in the system adds additional stress and confusion for everyone involved, and is unsustainable.
“This is not only down to grade inflation of Leaving Cert results, but is also driven by lack of sufficient places in high demand courses.
“Each year the number of applicants to the CAO system increases, yet this has not been matched by additional places in most popular courses.
“Last year, we saw additional places open up after the results were announced. The Minister needs to look at doing the same for courses that have seen high levels of demand.
“Headline announcements of extra course places must be felt on the ground by those who have worked so hard to achieve high points.”
Teachta Ó Laoghaire added:
“Today will be a day of celebration for many of the class of 2021, and rightly so. It has been an incredibly difficult two years for them.
“I am concerned, however, that many students who sat their Leaving Cert in previous years will have been left out of their first, second or indeed third-choice CAO courses today.
“It is clear that there is not a level playing field for these students, given the significant points-inflation we have seen for entry to third level this year.
“When these students made the decision not to progress straight to third level after their Leaving Cert, for whatever reason that was, they could not have foreseen the pandemic or the ramifications of the grade inflation from the accredited grading system on their CAO opportunities.
“We have met with Minister Harris and put forward solutions that would prevent this unfair treatment of previous Leaving Cert students. Solutions are still possible, and I would urge the Minister to act here to safeguard these students’ futures.”