The Daíl’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard concerns on Thursday about the reliability of the University of Limerick’s (UL) student record system, which may have allowed hundreds of students to receive incorrect exam results.
The committee were told of a 2015 report commissioned by the University which details concerns about the twenty year old system. The system calculates the level of degree to be granted to students based on average grades from the second to final year of their course.
A whistleblower spoke privately to the committee earlier this week to bring up the potential that a large amount of students could have been given incorrect degree results. He went on to claim that an audit of student records was halted and has yet to be resumed by the University.
The University’s president, Professor Desmond Fitzgerald, explained that concerns were first raised in 2015 in a report from Deloitte, and that another firm is currently examining student records as far back as the 1980s.
According to Fitzgerald, at least one student has been found who received a 2:2, but should have been awarded a 2:1. “That student was informed,“ Fitzgerald noted.
Fitzgerald claimed that UL is continuing to improve and update the system, stating: “It is a priority for me and the institute to make sure those systems are accurate and robust.”
Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane stated: “Potentially, people have been given results that weren’t the results they achieved. It’s a very serious allegation.”
In addition to being answerable for potentially granting incorrect degree results since the 1980s, UL has been under scrutiny in recent years for topping-up pensions of two senior staff members, totaling €1.2m.
The Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy, said that he felt UL attempted to mislead himself and the committee with false documentation regarding the pensions, prior to Fitzgerald taking on UL’s presidency in 2017.
The staff members who provided the misleading information stepped down from their posts but are employed elsewhere within the university on the same salary scale, according to Fitzgerald.