Transitions reform

Since 2011 the HEA has been working in partnership with key stakeholders to enhance the transition from secondary to higher education in Ireland. The main aims of this reform-process are to:

  • address problematic predictability in the Leaving Certificate examination;
  • reduce the number of grading-bands used in the Leaving Certificate examination;
  • broaden entry-routes into higher education.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) commissioned an independent evaluation of predictability in the Leaving Certificate examination from the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) and Queen’s University, Belfast. Concerns about predictability in the examination were not sustained by the findings of the research overall, although it was recommended that action should be taken to maintain trust in the integrity of the Leaving Certificate in the public sphere. The reports detailing the findings of the research are available at


On 3rd September 2015 the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, T.D., launched a new grading-scale for the Leaving Certificate examination and an accompanying points-scale for entry to higher education. These will come into effect in the autumn of 2017.

The HEA is overseeing the broadening of entry-routes into higher education through the strategic dialogue process. Under cycle 3 of strategic dialogue, higher education institutions are requested to report on

  • the vision underpinning their portfolio of undergraduate programmes;
  • how their planned provision is aligned to their institutional mission;
  • their progress in reducing the number of entry-points for undergraduates.

Further information on the transitions reform process is available in the publications below and at