Students and third level colleges make joint call for accelerated action on Leaving Cert Reform - IUA, USI, THEA Joint Statement 07.09.22

07.09.22: The USI has joined together with the IUA and THEA to call on the Minister for Education to accelerate plans to reform the Leaving Cert. The call comes following the 3-week delay in results this year and the knock-on impact on students going to third level.  This has exacerbated the problems with student accommodation and inflated grades, resulting in an increase in more places in third level being allocated by random selection.

The students and college representative bodies are urging the Minister to expedite the Leaving Cert reform process over a 3-year timeframe in order to address the pressures and challenges faced by students and resolve the issues that have arisen in recent years. As part of that reform process, the group proposes that changes are made to bring forward the date of Leaving Cert results which are out of line with most of the rest of Europe. A sample analysis of other European countries shows that Irish Leaving Cert results are significantly later than elsewhere. This puts additional and unnecessary pressure on students who are applying for college entry or making other life and career choices.

Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “Our analysis of the results timeline shows that Ireland is out of step with most of the rest of Europe. In an increasingly mobile international student market, this puts Irish students at a serious disadvantage. We urge the Minister to expedite the reform process in the interest of students.”

Beth O’Reilly, President of USI, said: “The Leaving Cert. exams already place undue stress and pressure on students and can have a significant impact on their mental health. The long summer wait for results, and short turnaround to the new academic year, just creates more stress on students and their families. The timing of the Leaving Cert. results is yet another barrier to students being able to attend higher education.  Securing accommodation is the biggest difficulty facing students this year, but first years will be in an even harder situation than most, with so little time to try and secure a place to live. A longer lead in time to the academic year would give students more security and time to plan and budget for the year ahead.”

Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO of THEA said: “The interventions in the Leaving Certificate system following Covid have had unintended albeit predictable consequences.  We should learn from this trigger, and accelerate the process of reform that restores consistency and equity while also lessening the pressure upon students.” 

 The group has written to Minister Foley seeking an urgent joint meeting to discuss Leaving Cert reform and to seek an acceleration of the reform process that has been signalled by government following the recent publication of the NCCA report.


Country Leaving Cert Equivalent Results Date
Belgium Late June
Czech Republic Mid-May
France Late June / early July
Germany Late May / early June – variation across states
Hungary Early June
Ireland Mid-August (normal year); early September in 2021/2022
Netherlands Late June
Poland Late June / early July
Spain Late June
UK Early to mid-August – but conditional offers for third level are made by end June subject to GSCE / A Level results




For media queries contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, IUA – 085 7141414

Róisín O’Connell, Head of Communications, THEA –  087 9193333

Beth O’Reilly, President, USI