Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Charlie McConalogue has said: “I want to congratulate the students receiving the Leaving Cert results today. It’s a very important day for them after two years preparing for the exams. I would encourage students to take the time to look carefully at their options for further education now.
“I am delighted to see the positive effect that Project Maths and the additional bonus CAO points are having on the numbers sitting higher level maths. Since it was first rolled out in September 2010, Project Maths has shown promising results with more students opting to take the higher level maths exam and increased student engagement with the subject.
“However, my key concern at the moment is that there must be a sufficient number of third level places available for students and they are able to get places on courses. We are concerned at the potential significant increase in points across a number of courses particularly those courses that are essential to the knowledge economy such as science and technology courses where there will undoubtedly be increased competition for places. If points increase dramatically then more places need to be put on stream.
“In such difficult economic circumstances we need to ensure that our young people are given every opportunity or pathway to access the necessary courses at third level. We are calling on the Government to provide the necessary places to meet demand, to be innovative and work with the colleges and Institutes of Technology to provide enough places on those courses essential to our knowledge economy.
“There has been a massive expansion in the number of places available at third level over the past 15 years. Since 1997, we have seen a 59% increase in the number of full-time students enrolled in our third level institutions. This government must ensure that this expansion continues and that opportunities continue to be provided particularly in those courses most needed by the labour market.
“Last year, Minister Quinn promised leaving certificate reform which would tackle the points race and the pressure that this puts on students but so far this has amounted to nothing more than hot air. The NCCA/HEA produced a detailed report following a conference on Leaving Cert reform last December with a list of detailed recommendations. Unfortunately, there has been no mention of leaving cert reform since then.”