Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keeffe has said that he hopes to have the results of a review of Leaving Certificate grades and third level qualifications by the end of the week.

Minister O'Keeffe was speaking after it was confirmed that he had met with senior representatives from the multinational sector in this country.

Mr O’Keeffe said the representatives had expressed their concerns to him about the number of first-class honours qualifications being awarded by third level institutions, as well as inflation of grades in the Leaving Certificate.

He described talks with the multinational sector as a 'no holds barred' meeting.

Mr O'Keeffe said there had been a serious increase in grades over the past ten years and there was also a general perception that there was quite a significant increase in the number of first class honours qualifications being awarded by the third level sector.

He said he was anxious to ensure quality and consistency and he was determined to address what he described as any distortions or deficiencies in the short term.

He said he had asked the State Examinations Commission to conduct the review of Leaving Cert results and his own staff in the third level sector and the Higher Education Authority to review third level results.

Minister O'Keeffe said both reviews are well under way.

The minister was speaking at St Fanahan's College in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, where he was opening new science labs.

Officials are reviewing the number of first-class honours degrees, which have been awarded by third level institutions since 1991.

They are also looking at the number of higher grades in the Leaving Certificate between 1992 and 2009.

Previous studies have shown that the percentage of first-class honours degrees awarded by Irish universities has almost trebled in the past 15 years, while the number of straight A Leaving Certificate results is up 500%.