Now that results are out, the wait for points offers begins

The points requirements for construction-related courses are likely to increase quite considerably

From left:  Joe Humphreys, Irish Times  Education Correspondent, with guidance counsellors   Brian Howard   and Deirdre Garrett,  at the Exams Helpdesk.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

From left: Joe Humphreys, Irish Times Education Correspondent, with guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett, at the Exams Helpdesk. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 01:02

Since the Leaving Cert results came out on Wednesday, guidance counsellors at the Irish Times Help Desk have been busy answering inquiries and responding to concerns at irishtimes.com/results.

Student focus of has moved in the past 24 hours to the offer of college places which will be available on the CAO website from 6am next Monday. All inquiries around this issue can be summed up in one question: “What will the points requirement be for my preferred course?” This matter is being decided by a process, involving the admissions officers of every college, taking place in the CAO offices in Galway today.

Every student’s original Leaving Cert score, plus any additional CAO points added by colleges to take account of concessionary points arising from such factors as a disability, disadvantaged background, elite sport or musical scholarship, are entered into the computer system alongside the number of places to be offered by the colleges in 2014-2015.

The computer will generate a list of offers based on the highest choice to which each student is entitled, based on total points score. The points score of the last person on the list then becomes the published points score for that course in the first round of offers in the current year.

It is possible though to make some predictions relating to where the points requirement will go this year. The number of students in the CAO application system is up marginally, based on 2.4 per cent rise in Leaving Certificate candidates this year.

There are in excess of 13,000 higher-level maths students with 25 additional bonus points, more than 1,000 more than last year. The CAO has released figures already which show which courses have shown a higher level of interest among applicants in 2014. From all of that data, we can ascertain that points requirements will be higher in most courses than last year, apart from in arts and art and design programmes.

Science applicants have remained constant this year, with 9,452 students listing it as their first choice. This should see points remaining in or about the 500 mark. However there has been a sharp increase of 8 per cent in those seeking science places at ordinary degree/higher cert level, which will push up points requirement for programmes at these levels.

The most dramatic increase in demand for places this year, at 140 per cent, is in construction, in disciplines such as quantity and building surveying and construction management, in institutes of technology in Carlow, Dublin, Dundalk, Limerick and Waterford. Points will increase substantially for these programmes this year.

Other honours degree courses seeing a rise in first preferences are architecture (up 13.5 per cent), engineering (up 5.8 per cent), business (up 4.4 per cent), and law (up 5.5 per cent). Therefore students should expect to see points increase proportionately for all these programmes.

Applications for places on teacher-training programmes are up 5.2 per cent this year, which will push the already high points requirements of 460-plus higher in 2014.

Some Leaving Cert students will be hoping to join those A level students who got their results yesterday in Britain. If you received a provisional offer from Ucas but did not achieve the required grades in Leaving Cert, remember that’s not necessarily the end of the process. British colleges have the option of offering you the place if they fall short of students who achieved the grades sought.

Secondly, Ucas operates a “clearing system” which is similar to a market place, where colleges who still need students interact with those who are still seeking a satisfactory offer. Log on to ucas.com. You don’t have to be an existing Ucas applicant to access “clearing”.

Finally, if you don’t get a satisfactory CAO offer on Monday, all is not lost. The CAO will publish a full list of vacant places on Tuesday at lunchtime, for which any person can now apply. You can amend your existing CAO application to add one of these courses having checked that your Leaving Cert grades meet the minimum entry requirements of the course you are considering. l College Choice continues on Monday

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