The Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) are calling on the Department of Education to release the 2023 Leaving Certificate results on an earlier date than currently planned.
In a joint statement, the three third-level bodies said that officials from the Department of Education indicated to them that “2023 results may not be released until September”.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Leaving Certificate results were released in the middle of August. This is the fourth year in a row that there will be a delay in the release of results.
The statement from USI, IUA and THEA called for reforms of the current Leaving Certificate examination and results process: “It is essential that Ireland is brought into line with general EU standards where results are issued no later than [the] end of July each year.”
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.”
“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.”
Chair for the THEA Council of Registrars, Dr Sheila Flanagan, said that “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.”
Chair of the IUA Registrars Group, Shane Kilcommins, argued that “the current situation with Leaving Certificate results and college entry running three weeks late is untenable”.
According to the statement, USI, IUA, and THEA are aiming to “ease the time pressures associated with a compressed academic year [caused by delays in results]”. They claim that students are potentially facing “reduced contact time in the critical first year of study”.
The bodies also said that time constraints reduce “the options for Irish students to study abroad and for international students, including those from Northern Ireland, to come to study in Ireland”.
The statement suggests that a delay in the release of results negatively impacts college attendance: “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.”
In December 2022, the Irish Independent reported that the release of Leaving Certificate results would not be as delayed as in previous years but would not “return to the traditional mid-August date”.
According to the Irish Independent, there is no confirmed date for the release of Leaving Certificate results, but “a broad outline of the timeline has been shared with the higher education sector”.