What's New

New Leaving Certificate grading system

A new grading scheme for the Leaving Certificate will be introduced from 2017. The new scheme no longer uses grade bands (A1, A2 and so on).The new scale has 8 grades at both Higher and Ordinary levels- the highest grade is a Grade 1, the lowest grade a Grade 8. Grades 1-7 run (in 10% grade bands) from 100% to 30% and Grade 8 is for percentage marks for 0 to 29.9%.

The change in grading scheme means the Common Points Scale (CPS), used by the CAO to determine entry into higher education institutions, also needs to be revised. The table below shows the revised CPS that will be introduced from 2017:

Higher Ordinary
Grade Points Grade Points
 H1 100
 H2 88
 H3 77
 H4 66
 H5 56  O1 56
 H6 46  O2 46
 H7 37  O3 37
 H8 0  O4 28
   O5 20
   O6 12
   O7 0
   O8 0

The main features of the new scale are that:

  • It maintains the current alignment between the points awarded for achievement at Higher Level and the points awarded for achievement at Ordinary Level
  • The difference in the points awarded for each grade varies, reducing the probability that students will achieve the same overall points score. This will help to minimise the allocation of places in higher education by random selection.
  • It will encourage the take-up of Higher Level subjects through the introduction of points for the new H7 grade.
  • It continues to award Bonus Points for Higher Level Maths.

You can read more on transition.ie.

Know your rights: Consumer rights in the EU

Question

I’ve just come back from a holiday in Portugal. I booked a tour to see the sights but the coach didn’t turn up on the day. The tour company said we could rearrange another time but this didn’t suit me. Can I get my money back?

Answer (August 2015)

When you buy goods or services in another EU member state you have certain rights under consumer legislation, including the right to make a complaint. The consumer laws of Portugal apply to any goods or services you bought while you were visiting there. However language differences and distance can make it more difficult to complain effectively.

If you are not happy with something you paid for, you should deal with the issue as soon as possible. In some cases, there are time limits for taking certain procedures. Even if there are no time limits set down, it is easier for you and the service provider to deal with issues as soon as possible.

Keep all relevant documents. It is your responsibility to prove that you paid for the goods or service that you are complaining about. A receipt is just one way to prove that you paid for an item or service. If you paid for the item by credit card, you can use your credit card statement as proof of purchase.

You should contact the service provider or retailer directly to make your complaint – in this case, the tour company. If you have exhausted the company’s complaints mechanism or you are not happy with their response you should seek advice from your European Consumer Centre (ECC).

The ECC in Ireland is there to support you if you have a problem with a supplier of goods or services in another EU member state. It is part of an EU-wide network of consumer centres and it can help you to solve consumer disputes that arise in other member states of the EU. It does this by trying to solve the dispute directly with the supplier and, if this fails, by referring your case to an alternative dispute resolution body.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Nominate someone for Carer of the Year

The closing date for nominations for the Carers of the Year Awards 2015 is Friday 11 September 2015.

If you know a relative, neighbour or friend you think should be recognised and rewarded for the care they provide to a loved one you can nominate them for an award. You can also nominate a young carer (under 18) for a special award.

Visit carersireland.com to fill out an online nomination form.

Find out more about the supports available for carers. 

Students in the asylum protection system to gain access to student supports

From 1 September 2015, students in the asylum protection system will have access to student supports in line with the current Student Grant Scheme.

Students will have to meet the following criteria:

  • Meet the definition of a protection applicant or a person at leave to remain stage (other than those at the deportation order stage);
  • Obtained their Leaving Certificate;
  • Have been accepted on an approved Post Leaving Certificate course or an approved undergraduate course;
  • Have attended a minimum of five academic years in the Irish school system, as at 31st August 2015; and
  • Have been part of an application for protection or at leave to remain stage (other than those at the deportation order stage) for a combined period of 5 years as at 31st August 2015.

Find out more on the website of the Department of Education and Skills.

Know your rights: Using a jet ski

Question (August 2015)

I would like to buy a jet ski. What are the rules about their use?

Answer

Recreational boats are regulated in different ways depending on their size and what they are used for. The use of safety equipment on any mechanically-propelled pleasure craft is covered by the Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005. This includes motorboats, powerboats, fast powerboats (those that can travel at a speed of 17 knots) and personal watercraft, known as jet skis.

Under the Regulations, you must wear a suitable personal flotation device (lifejacket or buoyancy aid) at all times when using a personal watercraft. If you are being towed behind a personal watercraft, you must also wear a personal flotation device.

It is illegal for child under the age of 16 to operate or control a personal watercraft.

The consumption of alcohol or drugs is also restricted by the Regulations. If you are operating a personal watercraft or being towed by one, you must not consume or be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If an offence is committed under the Regulations, an on-the-spot fine of €150 may be imposed or the offence may be prosecuted in the District Court.

Wherever you intend operating the personal watercraft may be subject to bye-laws which can regulate and control your use of a personal watercraft. An offence committed under such bye-laws can also make you liable for an on-the-spot fine or prosecution.

It is recommended that before operating a personal watercraft, you should attend a suitable training course. Information on training courses is available from Irish Sailing Association (ISA), 3 Park Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Tel: (01) 280 0239 and from their website, sailing.ie.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Know your rights: European Health Insurance Card

 Question (August 2015)

My daughter and I are planning a holiday in Germany and Switzerland this summer and I’m wondering what happens if one of us becomes ill. Am I liable to pay for medical costs if I don’t take out insurance?

Answer

You and your daughter each need an individual European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card allows you to access public healthcare services if you become ill or get injured when visiting certain European countries. It doesn’t cover private treatment or the cost of repatriation to Ireland, if one of you becomes very ill.

The countries covered by the card are the 28 member states of the EU, the three other members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland. The card is not required for a visit to the UK if you can show that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. In practice, this means showing a driving licence, passport or similar document. There is no charge for the card. Any website attempting to charge you for your EHIC is not connected to the HSE or any State services.

You can apply online at ehic.ie if you already have a medical card, GP visit card or Drugs Payment Scheme card. Otherwise, you can download an application form from ehic.ie or get it from your Local Health Office. You need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). If your EHIC card has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. If a family member has changed name or address, they will need to contact their Local Health Office.

You should apply for the card a month before travelling, if possible. If you have concerns about getting a new or renewed card in time, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate either online or from your Local Health Office. You may also wish to consider taking out private travel insurance for expenses that are not covered by the European Health Insurance Card (such as the costs of repatriation or the expenses of relatives who travel to you if you fall ill abroad).

If you have a smartphone you can also download the free EHIC App. This helps you contact health services in the country you are visiting. The app does not replace the EHIC.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Water Conservation Grant

A new Water Conservation Grant of €100 will be paid to eligible households from September 2015. To be eligible you must have registered with Irish Water before 30 June 2015.

You must apply online for the grant and the application facility is open from 18 August 2015.

However you cannot apply for your grant until you have received a letter from the Department. This letter includes information you need to make your online application.

You should get this letter between 18 August and the end of September 2015.

Find out more on watergrant.ie.

Renting out a room in your home

If you rent out a room (or rooms) in your home to private tenants, any rental income you earn will be exempt from income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge, provided this income does not exceed €12,000 in the tax year. This is called the rent-a-room relief.

The relief applies only to residential tenancies, not to short-term guest arrangements. Your tenants must be using the room on a long-term basis. For example, renting a room to a student for the academic year is covered, but taking in guests for short breaks is not.

Read more about rent a room relief.