Changes to process of Leaving Certificate Examination appeals and entry to higher education

01 November, 2018 - Ministers announce significant changes to process of Leaving Certificate eamination appeals and entry to higher education

Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D., and Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., have today (1st November 2018) announced significant changes to the Leaving Certificate examination appeals process from 2019. The changes will mean that, in future, students who appeal the results of the Leaving Certificate will be informed by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) of the outcome of their appeals much earlier than has previously been possible.
In cases where students have applied for course places in Higher Education via the Central Applications Office (CAO), and where their appeal result means they could obtain a higher course preference, they will in most cases now be able to take up that preference in the current academic year, rather than have their offer deferred by a year. The higher education institutions (HEIs) will also strengthen the structured supports provided for those appeal students who begin a higher education course shortly after first year has begun, to ensure that they are not disadvantaged. The HEIs have advised that, in 2019, no First Year Undergraduate academic classes in HEIs will start earlier than the second week of September.
In 2019 the results of the Leaving Certificate appeals will be released to students in the week beginning 16th September, a full three weeks earlier than the normal timeframe  (Wednesday 10th October in 2018). This fundamental re-engineering of the appeals process includes a combination of earlier releases of provisional results of the Leaving Certificate and of CAO Round 1 offers to students, bringing forward the process whereby students are able to view their examination scripts in advance of deciding to submit an appeal, having appeals examiners mark scripts on a full-time basis rather than only at evenings and weekends, and a streamlining of the overall appeals logistics.  In 2019, provisional results of the Leaving Certificate will be issued to students on Tuesday, 13th August, while CAO Round 1 offers will be issued to students by Friday 16th August.
In the longer term it is anticipated that the planned movement of the examinations marking system from a paper-based to an online model over the next three years could further improve the appeals timeframe.
The changes announced today follow on the judgement in a recent High Court Judicial Review case, taken by a student (Rebecca Carter), who claimed that the current timeframe for processing Leaving Certificate appeals meant that, in the event of a successful appeal of her results which would give her a higher course preference, she would not be able to commence that course in the current academic year, but would instead be required to accept a deferred offer for the following year.  In his judgement, Mr. Justice Humphreys stated that the current system is highly unfair to students and cannot be repeated.    The judge also ordered the SEC to accelerate completion of the appeal process on behalf of Ms Carter. Following this accelerated completion of the appeal process, Ms Carter was successful in her appeal and was offered a place in Veterinary Medicine in UCD which she took up on 1st October.
While the measures announced today are a recognition by all parties concerned of the need for improvements in the Leaving Certificate Appeals process and subsequent entry to higher education, the Department of Education and Skills and the State Examinations Commission will be appealing certain broad Constitutional and legal issues raised by the judgement and findings relating to aspects of the examinations system. These appeals will, however, in no way affect the Plaintiff in the Judicial Review case, Ms Carter.
Speaking today, Minister McHugh said “My Department has engaged extensively with the State Examinations Commission, the Irish Universities Association and the Technological Higher Education Association on this matter over the last number of weeks. Together we have been considering the outcome of the judgement and how best to help our students in the coming years.
“The State Examinations Commission is making significant changes to its appeals process as part of this. Of course, there will be challenges in its implementation and this will require support and assistance from schools and examination correctors to ensure it can be done. I am confident that these changes, together with the measures being introduced by the Higher Education Institutions, will significantly improve the position for students who appeal their results from next year onwards.”
Minister Mitchell O’Connor added “To help support students who are appealing Leaving Certificate results, the IUA and THEA have agreed that no First Year Undergraduate academic classes will begin prior to the second week in September in 2019. This will minimise the class time lost by students who are offered a higher preference CAO offer.
“As well as this, higher education institutions will offer improved supports for students who begin, or change courses, after the start of first year orientation, including academic supports where needed. This will ensure that students are given the best opportunity in their course.”
The issue to students of provisional results of the Leaving Certificate has traditionally been 10 weeks from the first day of the examinations. The new proposed timeline moves the issuing of these results forward by one day (to Tuesday 13th August in 2019), and this will be followed by the release to students of CAO Round 1 offers by Friday 16th August.
The current appeals process takes approximately 8 weeks from the date of issuing provisional results to the issue of appeals results. The measures being announced today reduce that process to 5 weeks.
Indicative Timeline for Leaving Certificate Appeals
Key Dates 2019
Leaving Certificate Provisional Results issued to students  Tuesday, 13th August 
CAO Round 1 Offers issued to students Friday, 16th August
Viewing of scripts in schools by students who apply to view them  Mid-week of week-begining Monday19th August
Appeal closing date Late week-begining Monday 19th August
Appleal Results issued to students Between Wednesday, 18th September and Friday 20th September 

The judgement issued in this case by the High Court on 3rd October 2018 contained findings in relation to a new Constitutional right of access to higher education, which did not previously exist and which the Department considers is not correct in law. The Department wishes to have this issue fully considered by the Court of Appeal.


The Class of 2016

An Analysis of the First Destination of University Graduates

A report by the Higher Education Authority - January 2018

This edition of What Do Graduates Do? The Class of 2016 - An Analysis of the First Destination of University Graduates, is the 36th survey of graduates. The results of this survey are an important guide to graduate outcomes providing key information to a wide variety of stakeholders, including policy makers, academics, students and employers.

Over 18,200 students that graduated with level 8-10 qualifications in 2016 participated in this survey. Data was collected in March 2017 from these graduates to determine their situation nine months after graduation.

Employment rates for all graduates are up in 2017, with increases observed in both employment in Ireland and employment overseas. As expected, higher qualifications are associated with higher employment rates and often higher earning potential. Consistent with previous years, graduates in the Education field tend to fare best in terms of labour market outcomes. Many of these graduates emerge from Initial Teacher Education programmes and a large proportion are employed in Ireland. However, despite some improvements, such graduates find it difficult to secure permanent positions. Labour market outcomes for ICT graduates also continue to be favourable, with higher rates of employment and higher average salaries than most other graduates, nine months after graduation. ICT graduates also have the highest proportion of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates, and are amongst the highest proportion of Masters's and Doctorate graduates, employed in Ireland. This is in line with the objectives of the Action Plan for Jobs 2017, the ICT Skills Action Plan 2014-2018 and the National Skills Strategy 2025 to meet demand for the domestic supply of ICT graduates and to continue making Ireland the most attractive location in the world for ICT skills and ability. Lower rates of employment and lower earning potential are evident in the Arts and Humanities and Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics fields for level 8 graduates, but employment prospects improving considerably for graduates in these fields who obtain level 9 and 10 qualifications.

Specifically, 62% of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates are in employment, which is the same figure as that of 2015. The proportion of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates seeking employment has increased to 5% in 2016 from 4% in 2015 and those unavailable for work/study has increased to 5% in 2016 from 4% in 2015. The proportion of Higher and Postgraduate Diploma graduates in employment has dropped to 73% in 2016 compared to 78% in 2015. This is most likely due to the overall drop in Higher and Postgraduate Diploma graduate numbers with the replacement of the Professional Diploma in Education with the Professional Master of Education. In years previous, most of these Professional Diploma in Education graduates were in employment, nine months after graduation. 81% of Master's and Doctorate graduates are in employment, this compares to 80% for the class of 2015. In general, there has been an improvement in rates of employment for the class of 2016 compared to recent previous classes. A comparison to CSO labour market data also shows the benefits of obtaining a third level qualification. Based on 2017 Q2 CSO Quarterly National Household Survey data, the unemployment rate for those with an Honours Bachelor Degree or higher was 3.1%. This figure was 8.5% for those with an Upper Secondary education and 12.5% for those with a Lower Secondary education.

Click here to view the full report



Deadline for Applications:  1st May 2018

Uversity is now accepting applications for its new HIGHER EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS FOR ADULT LEARNERS that are intended to remove financial barriers so that adult learners can unlock their potential and realise their academic ambitions. 

Uniquely, Uversity’s scholarships will provide full financial support, if required, for the entire period of recipients’ study.  They will provide meaningful, multi-annual financial support for recipients to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree for the first time in participating third level institutions in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.  Scholarships can be any subject area and will be tailored to recipients’ financial circumstances to cover some or all of the direct and indirect costs associated with higher education.  

Further information on the programme and application process can be found here

Requests for further information / clarification should be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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