Leaving Cert calculated grades could cause CAO points to rise

ireland
Leaving Cert Calculated Grades Could Cause Cao Points To Rise Leaving Cert Calculated Grades Could Cause Cao Points To Rise
Talks are continuing over proposals for this year’s Leaving Cert, with plans to hold exams and a parallel 'non-exam' option. File photo: PA
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Points for third-level courses may climb above last year’s record levels if a system similar to calculated grades for the Leaving Certificate is adopted, the chair of the Central Applications Offices (CAO) has warned.

Prof Pól Ó Dochartaigh said a 9 per cent increase in applications this year is likely to put upward pressure on CAO points with almost 80,000 applicants for the first time.

A decision to rerun the calculated grades system – which was linked to significant grade inflation last year – could add to the points race, he told The Irish Times.

Talks are continuing over proposals for this year’s Leaving Cert, with plans to hold exams and a parallel “non-exam” option, with sources saying this may be a modified version of the calculated grades model.

While the Government provided thousands of additional college places in a bid to ease points pressure last September, Prof Ó Dochartaigh warned there was less scope to do this in 2021 given that key areas such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary science are running at capacity.

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“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.”

Record points

An unpublished report compiled by the Government confirms CAO points rose to record levels last year. It shows points for 70 per cent of courses increased, while several broke through the 600-point mark for the first time.

A combination of factors may be placing upward pressure on points this year, including demographic growth, greater numbers of students opting to study in Ireland instead of abroad and additional mature students returning to education, Prof Ó Dochartaigh said.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Further Education Simon Harris said he agreed with the professor’s call for greater planning and was keen to work closely with the sector on these issues, as well as on longer-term funding solutions.

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