Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

14.41 1 Oct 2020


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Students impacted by Leaving Cert errors 'won't be out of pocket' for any accommodation costs they've already paid, Simon Harris has confirmed.

The Higher Education Minister says he doesn't want any students financially disadvantaged, because the situation "isn't their mess".

Minister Harris' colleague Norma Foley yesterday confirmed that 6,500 students received a calculated grade lower than they should have.

Those results are now being upgraded, and anyone entitled to a higher preference CAO offer will receive it.

However, concerns have been raised that colleges are already 'maxed out' for the new academic year.

Minister Harris told Lunchtime Live that he's expecting there will be solutions for the 'overwhelming majority' of impacted students, as was the case during last year's usual Leaving Cert appeals process.

He explained there are likely to be four groups of affected students.

He said: “There’ll be ones who might have been affected but got their first place anyway… there’ll be a group who maybe get a few extra points, but it won’t be enough to bridge the difference.

“There’ll be a group who already got into a course… maybe their second choice, but they’ve settled in and will be happy there. But then there’ll be a group of people who want their new offer, and are entitled to it.

“My job - and I’ve just come from a meeting with the university presidents - is to make sure we provide extra places and funding to try to get them there.”

He acknowledged it there are issues for higher demand courses which require the likes of hospital placements, and just writing a cheque won't solve it.

However, he stressed Government is committed to working through it and want to 'do right' by students.

He said: “The Government is furious this situation has arisen… this is a group of students who’ve been through a year of stress and strain like no other before them.

“Your Leaving Cert year is always a really bloody tough year, but this is a year where there’s been so much uncertainty.”

'This is not their mess'

Minister Harris said he expects to be able to come back next week with more detail when they know the full scale of the issues.

Impacted students will get the free fees again, and will be entitled to any SUSI grant they're eligible for.

The Higher Education minister said officials will also come up with a way to ensure students don’t lose out on cost of accommodation.

He explained: “I don’t want any student to be financially disadvantaged in relation to this - this is not their mess.

“It’s up to the State to step up and fix it.

“If you’ve already signed a lease in Limerick and now you need to sign a lease in Galway, you won’t need to end up paying for two apartments when you only need one.”

Minister Foley earlier confirmed the deadline for students to apply for November's written Leaving Cert will be extended due to the errors.

Main image: File photo of Simon Harris. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie

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