Joint Statement of Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Irish Universities Association (IUA) and Technological Higher Education Association (THEA)
Students and Colleges jointly call for earlier Leaving Certificate results.
IUA, THEA and USI have joined together to call on the Minister for Education to bring forward the date of the Leaving Certificate results.
The three organisations, representing students and higher education institutions, are calling for this year’s results to be available on their traditional mid-August date. Their joint call follows recent meetings with Department of Education officials who have indicated that 2023 results may not be released until September. The organisations also want to see an acceleration of the Leaving Certificate examination reform process. It is essential that Ireland is brought into line with general EU standards where results are issued no later than end of July each year.
This is the fourth year in a row in which the Leaving Cert results will have been delayed. It is acknowledged that the Covid pandemic was responsible for the delay in the first year, but when the rest of society has returned to normal following the pandemic, it is simply unacceptable that Leaving Certificate students are still suffering the after-effects.
The process is clearly cumbersome and overly bureaucratic and reflects a system that could be better connected. The organisations are calling on the Minister for Education to intervene immediately and to ensure that the 2023 results are issued in line with the pre-covid exams timeline. The Minister is also asked to accelerate the reform process to ensure that Leaving Certificate results in future years are published no later than July.
USI, IUA, and THEA take this stand in support of students. They are acutely conscious of the additional pressures and stresses associated with new entrants seeking to find accommodation at very short notice in an already tight market. In addition, they are seeking to ease the time pressures associated with a compressed academic year which curtails induction activities and leads to reduced contact time in the critical first year of study. The late results also reduce the options for Irish students to study abroad and for international students, including those from Northern Ireland, to come to study in Ireland.
Universities and institutes of higher education are experiencing increased retention problems which can be directly traced back to the late entry into higher education for Leaving Certificate students, the squeezing of the first-year experience and the inability to ease transition through appropriate and comprehensive induction and orientation activities. As a consequence, what may be viewed as administrative difficulties are manifesting themselves as critical negative experiences for the students affected. This can no longer continue.
Government has provided welcome additional supports to higher education to deal with growing mental health issues among students. However, the delayed Leaving Certificate results lead directly to significant stress and mental health challenges for students.
USI President, Beth O'Reilly, said: "The lack of clarity around the Leaving Cert results date has a hugely negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of students progressing from second level to third level education. This is unconscionable and must be changed. There is an urgent need to return to the pre-COVID exams timeline, not only to ensure that incoming first years receive a well-rounded orientation, but also to allow students adequate time to attempt to source housing. The Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education need to collaborate efficiently and ensure that we do not have yet another year where those progressing to third level fall through the cracks."
Prof. Shane Kilcommins, Provost and Deputy President at UL, and Chair of the IUA Registrars Group said: “The current situation with Leaving Certificate results and college entry running 3 weeks late in untenable. It’s placing intolerable strain on first-year students and their families and makes it even harder for them to find accommodation in an already stressed housing market. It is time for the Minister to take immediate action to bring forward the Leaving Certificate results.”
Dr Sheila Flanagan, Vice President and Registrar at DkIT, and Chair for the THEA Council of Registrars, stated: “We are all working towards trying to find an equitable solution that meets the best interests of students. The current situation places an enormous burden on incoming first year students who face a delayed academic start to the semester at a time when most available accommodation has already been taken up by international and returning students”.