Ronan Cloney (20) Cloney has been trying to ensure fairness for deferred CAO applicants since May, when the exams were first cancelled.
CAO OFFERS ARE due to be released today at 2pm amid fears that 20,000 CAO applicants carrying results forward are at a severe disadvantage.
Students will have until the 16 September to accept round one offers, with round two offers out from 23 September at 10am.
Notification of college course offers will be sent via text or email, depending on how a student opted to receive them.
The Government has allocated additional funding to make more college places available in certain courses where high demand is expected. It is hoping that additional places will minimise the disappointment when the first round of college courses offers are issued today.
However, students who have carried points forward from previous years say they are at a significant disadvantage to this years’ cohort, following a 4.4% inflation in Leaving Certificate grades.
Ronan Cloney, a 20-year-old from Co Wexford, has reapplied for this year’s CAO and told TheJournal.ie that, while the extent of points depreciation won’t be clear until later today, students carrying over points should be treated fairly.
“I understand that applicants like myself are not the priority in the current situation, but I feel we are being left behind,” said Cloney.
Cloney said he has been trying to ensure fairness for deferred CAO applicants since May, when the exams were first cancelled.
“Our points did not come with an expiration date, nor were we told that in a year’s time they would be facing such steep depreciation,” he said.
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, meanwhile, is expecting more students to get their first choice this year than any other year, and confirmed an extra 800 college course places this week.
He told the Dáil on Wednesday that more places are being made available to deal with points going up due to calculated grades.
“Through the engagement we’ve had with the [Higher Education Authority] and all the institutions, I can now confirm there will be a further 800 additional college places on top of 1250 we announced last week. I do hope we will go someway in relieving pressure.”
“Higher grades will result in higher points, there are no two ways about that but the most practical sensible thing we can do is provide as many college places as possible.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne programme last week, Harris said that there was apprehension ahead of the CAO offers.
The additional 800 places comes after Cabinet approved 1,250 additional place amid ongoing concerns about the impact of a 4.4% inflation in Leaving Cert grades this year.
About 360 of the 1,250 places announced last week are going to high demand course such as medicine, nursing, post-primary teaching and law.
More places will be available in the health service, more teacher placements will be available and on courses for which there is significant high demand, he said.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, Harris also confirmed that people who sat their Leaving Certificate as far back as 1985 are applying for this year’s CAO.
Carolyn Hulbert sat her Leaving Certificate last year and says she is “very concerned” her 530 points may not be comparable with this year’s calculated grades.
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“This is causing me a lot of anxiety and stress after an already difficult year,” she told TheJournal.ie.
Hulbert plans to study Occupational Therapy but feels that last year’s cohort has been “completely forgotten about”.
This week’s additional places followed an initiative pre-dating Covid-19, which will see 1,415 more places coming on stream this month in areas including engineering, computing and science, where there are shortages of graduates.
Yet concerns remain about whether students carrying over points will find themselves at a disadvantage later today.
Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin earlier this week said there is still an outstanding issue concerning the level of higher grades this year and how this impacts those who took their exams in 2019.
“The Minister for Education, and the Minister for Further and Higher Education should monitor this issue closely and ensure that all efforts are made so that students from 2019 aren’t punished by increase in grades this year,” he said.
“While 1,250 extra places have been created in high demand courses, more may be needed, and in what is hopefully a once off for this year, the government should act to fund more places if there is a requirement to ensure deferred students don’t lose out.”
Ó Ríordáin also called for Leaving Certificate students who sat their exams in previous years to be given an increase in their points in order to match this year’s cohort who received calculated grades.
With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha