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Students hit by calculated grades error have been offered college places

The CAO has offered places to 424 Leaving Cert students who missed out due to the error.

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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris (Damien Eagers/Julien Behal/PA).

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris (Damien Eagers/Julien Behal/PA).

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris (Damien Eagers/Julien Behal/PA).

Students who missed out on college courses due to the calculated grades error have now been offered their places.

Higher education minister Simon Harris said the offers had gone out on Thursday morning.

There were 424 students who were identified by the CAO to have missed out on their desired college course due to wrongly being awarded a lower grade.

They have now being offered a place on their chosen course for the current academic year.

Minster Harris said: “I promised last week to move mountains to make sure that any student who required an additional place as a result of the calculated grades would get that place and would get that place in this academic year.

“I’m delighted to report to the committee that that’s happened.

“That every single student that had an error in their calculated grades detected by the CAO has now been offered a place this morning.”

Mr Harris again apologised for the errors, which affected an initial 6,500 Leaving Cert students, 6,100 of whom have since been awarded higher marks.

The CAO identified that 424 of those students required new offers.

Mr Harris said he was conscious that the class of 2020 had been through a “horrifically difficult year”.

Mr Harris made the comments at the committee on higher education on Thursday, and insisted that Government would learn from its mistakes.

He said: “The idea that we wouldn’t stop and review and learn in relation to this year’s calculated grades would seem to be a bit bizarre to me.

“I’m quite sure there will be an openness in Government that any lessons that need to be learned are learned.

“This was done in real time, in crisis mode.

“I think people worked in good faith.

“But you’d be very stupid not to stop and review it and see what went well, what didn’t go well, what needs to go better.

“We need to try and make sure that we don’t create a bubble effect next year.

“I need to try and make sure I maximise the number of places available for the class of 2021.”

Sinn Fein senator Rose Conway-Walsh raised the fact hat some students had been squeezed out of places due to others wrongly being awarded higher marks.

But Mr Harris said these students would not have their results downgraded.

“We have a long standing precedent in this country, decades old, that nobody gets downgraded.

“Short of re-running the entire process, which I don’t think anyone would advocate for, there is no way of determining the impact of that.

“The Government, in a pandemic, thought that this was the fairest way of doing things. Is it perfect, no?

“But this was done in crisis mode, in a pandemic.

“I’m encouraged that more students than ever before have college places, have their first choice.”

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The CAO has offered 424 additional college places to Leaving Cert students (David Jones/PA)

The CAO has offered 424 additional college places to Leaving Cert students (David Jones/PA)

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The CAO has offered 424 additional college places to Leaving Cert students (David Jones/PA)

Minister Harris also sought to reassure college students who are undertaking their first year of college off campus through online learning.

He said: “This is not forever. We’re taking this semester by semester. We’re constantly looking for more opportunities to do things on site.

“We haven’t locked the doors of the universities like we did in March.”

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