Minister for Education Norma Foley has confirmed that the fees for both Junior and Leaving Certificate exams will be waived for the second consecutive year.
Previously, sitting the state exams would cost €116 for the Leaving Certificate and €109 for the Junior Certificate. The removal of fees comes as a means of attempting to relieve financial pressures brought on by the pandemic for students and their families. This announcement was made following the decision to return to in-person exams for Leaving Cert students rather than the hybrid model that was introduced to protect against the spread of Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021. No discussion has taken place in relation to the permanent removal of exam fees. The Junior Cert exams will also recommence after being cancelled for the past two years.
Speaking to the College Tribune, a Department of Education spokesperson said, “The system of Calculated Grades which operated for Leaving Certificate 2020 was intended to be a once-off event in 2020 given the sudden and very challenging position at that time and the impossibility of running examinations in their traditional form safely.”
“The rationale for this was that, given the levels of disruption to learning experienced by 2021 Leaving Certificate students during two significant and prolonged periods during their Senior Cycle education, it would have been unfair and unjust to require such students to sit traditional Leaving Certificate Examinations without offering an alternative or parallel process.”
Schools will be supported throughout this decision and clear guidance will be given concerning how the exams should take place following Public Health advice.
Substantial changes will also be made to the Leaving Certificate exams this year, and measures will be put in place to guarantee that this year’s results in the aggregate will be no lower than last year’s. Minister Foley has stated that students should not worry about being disadvantaged by these adjustments as more choice will be seen in the exams, as well as a reduction in the questions that need to be answered.
A second set of examinations will be held following the primary set in June for students who experience a family bereavement, serious illness, or catch Covid-19.
The removal of the hybrid exam system has been met with criticism from students, parents and principles. However, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) have warned that predicted grades will lead to an inflation in CAO points. A hybrid system could also mean that some students could enter third-level education without ever having taken a state examination.
Ella Waddington – Reporter