CAO Points Race: Close finish expected as students may face a lottery to get into popular courses

The Leaving Cert class of 2022 faces a razor-sharp points race today, with many high-performing students expected to lose their best college pick.

For the third straight year, pressure on CAO places is at unprecedented levels due to Covid-era inflated Leaving Cert grades.

There is concern that some students will have achieved the credits required for a course but will lose in a random “lottery”. Here the number of applicants who reach the point limit for a course exceeds the number of places available and a computer selects those who receive an offer

Many other top-performing CAO contenders may be just one point below the offer limit and will narrowly miss out on a spot.

Earlier this week, University of Galway Deputy President and Registrar Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, who is a member of the CAO board, said it was “inevitable” that points would rise for a large proportion of courses.

Many of the 46,000 Leaving Cert candidates awaiting their results at 2pm today also face uncertainty as to whether they will be able to accept an offer they receive.

The housing crisis has left students who have to leave their homes to attend college struggling to find housing and some fear they may have to move their place.

It is also the third year in a row that Leaving Cert earnings have been pushed back to September, which in turn has led to the later release of college offers, reducing the lead time for the first years.

The results have been delayed beyond their usual mid-August date due to Covid-related disruptions.

However, as arrangements return to normal, Education Secretary Norma Foley is facing calls from university and student officials for the results to be presented much earlier than mid-August.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA), the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have joined forces on this issue.

They all say that the traditional release date for results in Ireland is not the same as most other European countries and is “significantly later”. They say the late release this year has exacerbated problems students are already facing regarding housing and the impact of inflated grades on CAO spot allocations.

A sample analysis of other European countries found that the results for exiting the cert equivalent ranged from mid-May to early July.

Student and college officials have written to Ms Foley asking her to accelerate plans to reform the Leaving Cert and introduce changes within the next three years – including an earlier result date.

IUA Director-General Jim Miley said the relatively late release of the results “seriously disadvantages” Irish students in an increasingly mobile international student market.

THEA Managing Director Dr. Joseph Ryan said the post-Covid intrusions into the Leaving Cert scheme had unintended but foreseeable consequences.

“We should learn from this trigger and accelerate the reform process that restores consistency and equity while relieving pressure on students,” he said.

USI President Beth O’Reilly said the leaving certificate was already putting undue stress and pressure on students, and the long wait for results over the summer and the short return to the new academic year were causing even more stress.

She said securing housing is the biggest difficulty for students this year, but the first years would be in an even more difficult situation than most as they would have so little time to secure housing. CAO Points Race: Close finish expected as students may face a lottery to get into popular courses

Fry Electronics Team

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