UCD welcomes Minister’s Leaving Certificate examinations announcement and confirms first year trimester start

Posted 8 May, 2020

  • The University will make offers for over 4,000 places and hope to commence first year classes within four weeks of the results

Following the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. announcement of the postponement of the 2020 Leaving Certificate and awarding of calculated grades for this year’s class, the Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Mark Rogers has welcomed the Government decision.

“This decision means that third level institutions will be able make offers to students based on these results through the normal CAO process and students will progress accordingly.

"Because of the previous expectation that the Leaving Certificate results would be well into autumn, we had been preparing for a much-delayed entry for our first years. With the Minister’s announcement today, we anticipate that our academic year for first years will open closer to normal start date.

"We have already begun our plans for course delivery in the new academic year. Since the middle of March we have shown that our faculty, staff and teaching platforms can adapt to remote teaching and learning.

"In the new academic year we intend to blend online delivery with small group interactions with lecturers and access to library and other university facilities within the public health guidelines. 

"We are working through the logistics and, assuming the public health outlook is positive, we will be ready to welcome our students back to campus in the autumn," he added

Professor Marie Clarke, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, is currently chairing a working group on contingency planning for the new academic year. With a primary focus on optimising the student experience, the working group is preparing for a return to teaching, learning and assessment activity in autumn trimester 2020. 

The planning will be continuously informed by the public health outlook, advice from Government and the HSE, rules around social distancing and hygiene, entry to the country and quarantining, and movement.

Professor Clarke said: “The COVID-19 emergency will require changes in the way our incoming students experience our approach to teaching and the UCD campus life but we are working hard to ensure it will be as rewarding this year as in other years.”

Professor Rogers added: "We will make offers for over 4,000 places and hope to commence first year classes within four weeks of the results.

"We know that some students who may have intended to study overseas will now opt to stay in Ireland and conversely we may not have some students coming in from other EU countries which may have an impact on the CAO demand for our courses. UCD is looking to increase the number of first year places where this is possible.”

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting today, Minister McHugh said: “The reality of the impact of Covid-19 has led to a decision that has never happened in our country before. I fully appreciate the magnitude of this issue, for the students and their families, for the teachers and for school principals."

The Cabinet has decided that all students are to be offered the option of receiving Calculated Grades for the subjects they are studying and the alternative of sitting the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is considered safe to hold the examinations.

The Minister added: “This decision is taken with the best interests of students at heart. I have a responsibility to find a fair way to address the disadvantage that some students are facing and the impact a lack of time in school has had in recent weeks. 

"The system being put in place will allow a young person to progress to the next stage of their life in a timely fashion. 

"The fairest and most equitable way to do that in the current circumstances is to offer students the option of Calculated Grades for the 2020 Leaving Certificate but also to guarantee them the right to sit the examinations at a later stage when it is safe to hold them in the normal way. 

"The decision has to be taken now to remove the anxiety that many students have been experiencing over how the exams would look later in the summer.” 

Welcoming the clarity on the cancellation of examinations and the awarding of grades for this year’s Leaving Certificate class, the Deputy President and Registrar of UCD, Professor Mark Rogers said: “I am sure there will be many mixed emotions for these young adults; relief, dismay and uncertainty on what this decision may mean for them.

"Even though the calculation of grades without final State exams is unprecedented, this decision means that third level institutions can make offers to students based on these results through the normal CAO process and students will progress accordingly.

"Given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the whole country, the certainty provided by the decision to provide grades and facilitate circa 47,000 school leavers progressing to higher education in September is to be welcomed.”

By Eilis O'Brien, UCD University Relations