The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has congratulated the class of 2011, but says that the Leaving Certificate is in dire need of a major overhaul.

Around 55,000 students receive their exam results today and USI has urged those who are progressing to third level to apply for their grants as soon as possible. Students moving away from home to start college should start looking for accommodation now.

For those, who didn’t get the results they expected, please take a few days to think about what your next step should be. Seek advice if necessary, and keep in mind that there are lots of options available in Higher and Further Education, so don’t panic.

For anyone celebrating their exam results tonight, please do so responsibly and never ever drink and drive.

USI believes that Ireland needs to take a step back and evaluate the Leaving Certificate: Students are being forced to do too many exams in too short a period of time, leading to high stress and reduced performance.

We need to evaluate why only 50% of teachers are qualified to teach maths.

A system of continuous assessment must be introduced to evaluate a students’ performance over a more extended period of time.

USI President, Gary Redmond, said:

“Today is a tense and anxious day for Leaving Certificate students receiving their results, as they look to the future with anticipation.

For the past number of months, these students have been under an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure, studying intensely for an exam system that needs to be re-evaluated.

A new Leaving Certificate system of continuous assessment should be introduced for a fairer assessment of the performance of secondary school students over a longer period of time.

The high failure rate in the subjects of science and math in this year’s Leaving Certificate also needs to be examined, and the question of why only 50% of teachers are qualified to teach maths, needs to be looked at.

USI is urging all current and new college students to submit their maintenance grant application, and to start searching for suitable student accommodation, as soon as possible.”