11 September 2020
By Bryan Smyth
The Head of Student Affairs at Cork Institute of Technology, Dr Dan Collins, has congratulated all students who received offers through the CAO on Friday September 11th as well as empathising with those who were not made an offer in Round 1.
Speaking, virtually, to prospective CIT Students, Dr Collins used the opportunity to encourage students to take up their places for the coming academic year, despite the unprecedented situation many may find themselves in.
He acknowledged some prospective students are ‘looking at deferring their courses, concerned they will ‘miss out on the full Student Experience associated with Higher Education. This is primarily due to some courses having an online element with students hoping 2021 may be ‘closer to normality’.
He accepted that financial concerns were a major worry for student looking at deferring, as well as issues around securing accommodation mindful many courses will be delivered through blended learning.
Specific to financial concerns Dr Collins indicated that many students and their families had been severely impacted, to date, by Covid 19. He intimated some students were unable to secure part time work over the summer with others indicating that their parents/guardians had been made redundant and were, just now, unable to afford the costs associated with higher education.
While accepting that many students found themselves in unchartered waters, he indicated his belief that they should, where possible, take up their places this year and begin their third level journey albeit a different experience to what they may have been expecting. He advised students to look at the various financial supports currently available including:
- Student Assistance Fund (SAF). To avail of this fund, students should contact the Access Office/Student Services in the college for more information on how to apply for same .
- He also noted that as part of the Covid supports for higher education, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has allocated funding for a once off Covid – 19 grants to support disadvantaged students in accessing ICT devices. In CIT this initiative is being facilitated by the Access Office.
- In regard to change in family circumstance Dr Collins advised that prospective students ought to contact SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), if they have not already done so, to ascertain if this change in circumstance might qualify them for some grant aid. This also applies to those who may have already applied and were unsuccessful, requesting to be reassessed under a change in circumstance.
He recognised that grade inflation, this year, under the calculated grades, saw an increase in the points for many courses. This year, points for Level 8 courses had increased for approximately two third of these courses. ‘The scale of these increases is especially tough for students who had anticipated a more moderate rise in points’.
Specific to applicants who had sat their leaving certificate in previous years, Dr Collins accepted that ‘due to grade inflation this year, some saw their results substantially reduced and were consequently not offered a place in higher education in Round 1’.
For students who were not offered courses or who are still uncertain about course choice, Dr Collins noted that Colleges of Further Education (making specific mention to colleges in Cork) offered a myriad of courses and options to students. He encouraged students to avail of same noting the various routes from Colleges of Further Education into Higher Education (specifically mentioning CIT and UCC).
Dr Collins concluded his Q & A session, when asked his opinion regarding Leaving Certificate 2021, by revealing his belief that the Department of Education and Skills, should make a decision, as soon as possible, regarding the 2021 Leaving Certificate, accepting no one can predict what next Summer will look like specific to Covid – 19. He indicated his belief that other key stakeholders (including the ISSU (Irish Second Level Students’ Union), ASTI/TUI, NPCPP (National Parents Post Primary Ireland) and others, should be proactively involved with and engaged in this engagement.
In closing he wished the class of 2020 every success noting that they had lost so much in their final year and deserved every happiness and contentment in their future journeys – within and outside education.