Brian Mooney: Will points rise this year for chosen course?

CAO offers: Higher demand for business, construction, technology and nursing this year

A construction engineer at work. “Based on our analysis of the numbers applying for each course type by the July 1st closing date, we again expect an increase in points in business, construction and technology programmes, reflecting people’s confidence in the strength of the economic recovery.” File photograph: Getty Images

A construction engineer at work. “Based on our analysis of the numbers applying for each course type by the July 1st closing date, we again expect an increase in points in business, construction and technology programmes, reflecting people’s confidence in the strength of the economic recovery.” File photograph: Getty Images

 

Student inquiries have continued to pour into the Irish Times helpdesk since it opened on Wednesday morning.

Many are asking whether the points requirements for their specific college courses will rise when CAO offers are made on Monday morning.

Clearly, entry point requirement will change due to the grades achieved by this year’s applicants, as well as the number of places offered by the college in question.

Based on our analysis of the numbers applying for each course type by the July 1st closing date, we again expect an increase in points in business, construction and technology programmes, reflecting people’s confidence in the strength of the economic recovery.

There are a host of other factors which can influence the points score of the last candidate to secure a place on each programme, which then becomes the published points requirement of that course.

The Government, through the Higher Education Authority – and, in the specific case of nursing places, the Health Service Executive (HSE) – can increase the number of places in courses to meet demand.

Growing interest

This happened in the past year in the case of computer science, to meet growing interest in places. Points did not rise, therefore, as the extra places absorbed the additional demand.

The opposite has happened in nursing. During the economic crisis, the HSE instructed nursing course directors to reduce the number of places on offer from 1,860 to 1,500.

Even though the economy has recovered and we are short of qualified nurses, this directive has never been reversed.

Given that demand for nursing places has increased by 10 per cent this year, the points will surge if only 1,500 places are offered.

If we restored the 360 places stripped out during the downturn, there would be no increase in nursing points requirements from 2015 levels.

A phone call from Minister for Health Simon Harris would suffice, but do Ministers make decisions in August?

Many of the 3,000 students who failed to secure a D in ordinary-level maths have been seeking guidance on the options open to them.

Some told our helpdesk staff they had been advised following their mock results in March to consider taking foundation level.

Many who chose not to do so suggested it was because they were not offered any specific teaching support in taking on the foundation level programme, as opposed to the ordinary curriculum which they had studied for the previous year and a half.

This raises a serious issue for the Department of Education and all schools. Almost 6,500 students sat the foundation paper this year and 3,000 others failed to secure a D at ordinary level. This is a substantial number of students, at 17 per cent of all standard Leaving Certs.

Schools will say they do not have the teaching resources to create a specific foundation-level maths class, so students have to effectively self-prepare for the exam.

Dare and Hear schemes

If we want to reduce the numbers annually failing ordinary-level maths, we have to fund teaching and learning for students suitable for the foundation level curriculum.

Otherwise we will see a repeat of this pattern of high numbers failing at ordinary level.

Another issue exercising callers is the criteria in colleges for allocating places to students who qualified under the Dare and Hear schemes dealing with disability and disadvantage.

Up to 2016, there was no clarity regarding the internal decision-making processes in colleges leading to any particular student receiving or not receiving an offer under either scheme.

Thankfully, that is about to change. From today, the Dare and Hear website (accesscollege.ie) will provide links to the number of reduced points places available per programme and the method used to select eligible students.

Students, parents and guidance counsellors should now have a better experience accessing this information.