Calculated grades in the Leaving Cert could drive up CAO points 2 weeks ago

Calculated grades in the Leaving Cert could drive up CAO points

The chair of the Central Applications Offices made the warning.

Points for third-level courses could shoot up from last year's figures if a similar system of calculated grades for Leaving Cert students remains. The warning comes from the chair of the Central Applications Offices (CAO), Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh. Speaking to the Irish Times he said a 9% increase in applications this year will likely put pressure on CAO points with almost 80,000 applicants for the first time.

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The government are continuing to discuss options for this year's Leaving Certificate with discussions of exams as well as parallel “non-exam” options which could be a modified version of the calculated grades system from last year.

Additional college places were provided last year to ease the burden brought on by the changed points system, but Prof Ó Dochartaigh said this isn't an option for the year ahead,“Universities and colleges pulled out all the stops, but there is unanimous belief that we cannot and should not be in this position again,” he said. “We need longer-term planning rather than a short-term fix if we are going to add thousands of extra places.”

An unpublished Government report revealed that CAO points rose to record levels last year, points for 70% of courses raised and several broke through the 600 point mark. Prof Ó Dochartaigh is urging the government to decide whether last year's points were a "blip" or whether they will become the new normal.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Further Education Simon Harris said he agreed with the professor’s call and greater planning is needed for the education sector moving forward.