I set up the Commission on the Points System on 15 October 1997 to examine the existing system of entry to third level education generally. The setting up of the commission met a commitment in the Government's Action Programme for the Millennium, which included as a key priority the appointment of a high powered group to examine the points system. An article in the Irish Independent on Monday, 9 November 1998, included some information that has been made available to the commission concerning the number of places on high points healthcare courses given to first-time leaving certificate applicants and applicants with more than one leaving certificate.
I understand that the information was prepared on a confidential basis by the CAO and was given to the commission to help the commission in its deliberations. It shows that in relation to entrants in 1998, 13.3 per cent of all applicants with a leaving certificate for a higher education place had repeated the leaving certificate at least once and yet 31.6 per cent of those leaving certificate applicants who accepted places on high points health care courses had repeated the leaving certificate. The commission issued a consultative process background document in early September 1998, which analyses the submissions made and outlines the research undertaken on behalf of the commission as well as examining international experience. Following this the commission held a series of consultative seminars across the country later in the autumn and the commission is now aiming to report in late spring/early summer 1999.