Winners and losers in points race . . .
Requirements for many courses have risen while others remain in the doldrums
Nicole Collopy (left) and Kristel Aguila of Ringsend College in Dublin with their Leaving Cert results. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Many students hoping for a place on business or science courses in university will be disappointed this morning as the points requirements for these subjects have jumped again. CAO hikes are the order of the day across a range of subjects, with UCD reporting points rises in 60 per cent of its Level 8 offerings this year.
The new bonus-point system for higher maths has flooded the entry gates with extra points – 314,288 in total – which has had the effect of driving up requirements across a range of subjects including computer science, food science, agriculture, sports science, law and journalism.
Despite the points bonanza, some subjects are still in the doldrums. Teaching and nursing have both slipped this year in a number of institutions. Arts courses have also shed points, with the biggest course in the country, arts at UCD, down by 10 points to 340 this year. Apart from medicine, health sector disciplines have slumped, with drops in nursing, dentistry, clinical therapy and optometry.
Architecture is still in freefall; students are not yet showing confidence in the Irish construction sector.
Science, engineering and technology
The rise of science kicked in with the fall of the economy as students and their families starting looking seriously at the career prospects of graduates. Last year science programmes in UCD and TCD topped 500 points for the first time. This year sees a continuation of the trend, bolstered by bonus points for maths. Science in UCD is up 5 points to 505 while Trinity science is holding steady at 510. At UL the subject has crept up five points to 365 while science at NUI Galway has shot up by 25 points to 405. Science at DCU is up 15 points to 450.
Engineering has also seen a boost across many institutions and computer-related courses have generated a lot of interest again this year, with a huge 90-point surge for the subject at UCC, to 430.
Business is up for the second year after a bit of a dip, so students hoping for a soft entry into commerce and business courses may get a land today. Commerce in UCD is up 10 to 475; up 35 in NUIG to 375; up 35 in UL to 410 and up 15 to 440 in DCU.
Soundings from the business community about the importance of international languages have obviously hit home: business courses with languages are a big hit this year. Commerce with German at UCC jumped 55 points to 460 while NUI Galway’s commerce and language pairings all rose by 30 points or more.
Agriculture and food science
Agricultural and food science continues to push up, with points rises in both universities offering the subject. Agriculture has won the confidence of students from within and beyond the farming community since the recession, as it is regarded as a steady sector with potential to grow. There was a 10 per cent increase in applications to agriculture this year. In UCD the common entry Agricultural Science degree is up 10 points to 455, while its Food Science programme is up 15 to 470. Food Science at UCC is up by 35 points to 440. In DIT, Food Innovation is up by 50 points to 330. In UL, Food Science and Health is up 25 to 375.
The arts degree has taken a bit of a hammering in recent years. By pushing the subject down the CAO form, many students have indicated a lack of confidence in the market value of an arts degree. At its peak, arts in one of the bigger universities was well over 400 points: this year the biggest course in the country, arts in UCD, fell to a new low of 340, a 15-point drop on last year.