Students’ Union Criticizes ‘Call for tougher Leaving Cert grading as university dropout rates climb’

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The TU Dublin Students’ Union is deeply concerned about the recent surge in university dropout rates and believes that the root causes are directly linked to student poverty and governmental inaction. 

In response to the calls for tougher Leaving Certificate grading, the TU Dublin Students’ Union wishes to highlight the glaring disconnect between those in positions of power and the challenges faced by our most vulnerable student populations. While the push for higher academic standards is understandable, it is crucial to recognize that the existing grading system often fails to account for the socio-economic disparities that students face. Moreover, it has been noted in the media that dropouts subsided during the pandemic, a time when students were being offered more support. This shows the positive impact of enhanced support and modified teaching, learning, and assessment practices that were more inclusive of diverse learning needs. This highlights the importance of continued efforts to provide students with better support, not only during crises but as a standard practice. 

TU Dublin Students’ Union President, Brian Jordan said:   

Leaving Certificate (LC) points, as they currently stand, tend to reflect the socio-economic status of students more than their true potential for academic achievement. Furthermore, these points do not accurately represent the difficulty level of courses; they merely reflect the popularity of specific programs. 

If Irish Universities are serious about lowering dropout rates, then stop targeting students as the ‘cause’. Target the issues that make it impossible for students to excel. Commuting insane distances, working full-time hours to pay rent, not providing basic facilities on campuses, the list of failures by those in power is endless.” 

To address the pressing issue of rising dropout rates, the TU Dublin Students’ Union firmly asserts that the focus should not be on labelling students as the ’cause,’ but rather on addressing the systemic challenges that hinder their success. The TU Dublin Students’ Union calls upon the government to take swift and meaningful action to address these pressing issues. This is a time for Irish Universities to change their narrative and partner with the students’ unions on their quest for better higher education funding. 

Shauna O’Toole, TU Dublin Students’ Union VP Academic Affairs: 

“I urge policymakers to invest in affordable housing and accessible transportation options for students. Reduce the burden on students with initiatives to alleviate the financial strain and lastly prioritize the development of essential on-campus facilities and resources. 

It is only through these concrete actions that we can hope to create an educational environment that truly supports all students, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.” 

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