May 8, 2020

Universities Confirm They’ll Use Calculated Grades for Admissions

Students who opt to sit postponed leaving certificate exams will not be able to do so in time to start college in 2020/21.

Orla MurnaghanEditor-At-Large
Ruby Smyth for The University Times

Universities will use the government’s newly introduced calculated grade system for their admissions processes, while students who sit the postponed leaving certificate exams will have to wait until autumn 2021 to start college.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) today confirmed that calculated grades will be used to determine admissions, and said it hopes for “early confirmation by the Department of Education and Skills of the date by which the calculated grades will be made available to the CAO, so that new university students can begin their studies as soon as possible in the new academic year”.

The IUA said universities believe the new leaving certificate model – announced today by Minister for Education Joe McHugh – “is the best way to proceed”.


McHugh’s announcement came hours after reports emerged that the leaving certificate was set to be postponed again, and that calculated grades would determine students’ performance in their assessments.

At a press conference announcing the decision today, Harold Hislop, the chief inspector of the Department of Education, Harold Hislop, confirmed that students who don’t opt for calculated grades will not be able to start college in 2020/21.

“The candidate will be able to take up their place in the following academic year”, he said.

Information on the government’s website says colleges will start back in late September or early October.

Tom Molloy, Trinity’s director of public affairs and communications, told The University Times this afternoon Trinity was still working through various issues caused by the new leaving certificate format and could not say when first years will start college.

Calculated grades will be awarded to students on the basis of a number of factors – such as class rankings, students’ performance in previous assessments and other indicators.

While teachers appear to be primarily responsible for deciding these grades, the school principal and senior management will oversee the process and the grades will be filtered through a number of people before being finalised.

However, the later date proposed for sitting the leaving certificate exams will be too late for students to begin their chosen courses as colleges are still scheduled to open in September.

McHugh said: “I have made every effort to run the 2020 leaving certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held.”

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