The chair of the Central Applications Office has called on Government to clarify "as a matter of urgency" when Leaving Certificate students will receive their results amid concerns of a Covid-19 related delay to the traditional results date.

In a letter to Minister for Education Norma Foley and Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, seen by RTÉ's News At One, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh said any failure to do so will cause unnecessary damage to colleges and up to 50,000 Leaving Cert students.

It emerged this morning that Leaving Certificate results and college offers may be delayed this year due to the public health need to allow students who have a positive Covid-19 test to sit deferred exams at a different time.

Exam results are traditionally issued in mid-August, with college offers following a few days later.

However, college and university representatives were told that "logistical challenges" related to the Covid-19 decision mean an exact date for when results will be provided has yet to be confirmed.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One programme, Prof Ó Dochartaigh said the situation is unacceptable and that an exact window for when this year's results will be provided should be outlined due to the risk students who receive results late might miss course offers, begin courses late or struggle to find accommodation.

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh said "the short answer is at the moment we have been told nothing, absolutely nothing".

In a letter to Minister Foley and Minister Harris this lunchtime, he repeated the remarks, telling both ministers "I implore you to prioritise decision making... as a matter of urgency".

"On 1 February you [Minister Foley] announced extensive changes to the State examinations for 2022 to 'take into account the disruption to teaching and learning experienced by the Leaving Certificate class of 2021', and that an "alternative set of Leaving Certificate examinations will be run in 2022, shortly following the main set of examinations'.

"However, it appears no provision has been made to ensure Leaving Certificate candidates may progress in a timely fashion with their careers in higher or further education, or in other fields.

"It is now the middle of May and no announcement has yet been made regarding the date which leaving certificate results will be made available to candidates, the CAO and higher education institutions. This situation is most unsatisfactory.

"The CAO and higher education institutions also have major operations to organise, and the lack of clarity is inhibiting proper planning of the admissions process. We must develop a schedule for the process of offering places.

"We wish to ensure the approximately 50,000 students who will enter first year this autumn will do so in September and have the full higher education experience available to them.

"To achieve these aims, the higher education institutions and CAO need Leaving Certificate results as close to the traditional date as possible.

"We would ask now to be informed of the results date as a matter of urgency. I implore you to prioritise decision making and communicate with the CAO and higher education institutions at the earliest opportunity," the letter read.