Points surge sees door close on entrants


DISAPPOINTED CANDIDATES:Many who felt they were ahead of the pack have found themselves just off new points entry levels, write OLIVIA KELLYand ÁINE McMAHON

WITH 460 points under his belt, Conor Casey from Blanchardstown, Dublin thought his first choice of economics and German in TCD, at 435 points last year, was well within reach.

“I was reasonably confident I’d get it, so when I saw it had gone up to 495, that was a big shock.”

While there had been some expectation points would increase for the course, the level of increase could not be anticipated, Casey said. “It did occur to me that with the current emphasis on the economy and the importance of Germany in the EU that there might be an increase, but it is more dramatic than I could have imagined.”

Casey does have an offer of arts in Maynooth, which would allow him to study the same subjects. He said it is likely he will take up this place as he has no great confidence points for the TCD course will fall in the second round of CAO offers. He attributes the unexpected points surge to additional points given for honours maths.

“The bonus points definitely had an effect; economics is kind of seen as a mathematical subject, which it can be to a greater or lesser extent. The entry requirement for the course was a C3 in ordinary level maths and I got a B2.”

He appreciates the extra work higher level maths students take on, but said the awarding of 25 extra points is excessive.

“In hindsight, with so many people passing it, maybe I could have done it, but so be it – there’s no point in regretting it now.”

Ciara Darker from Knocklyon, Dublin had also felt in a secure position. The points for her chosen course, international languages in UCD, had been stable for a number of years and were at 415 last year. Yesterday the points hit 440.

“I was devastated. I got 435, five points off, I couldn’t believe it. I had thought I was comfortably through, I wasn’t even nervous the night before.”

Darker had wanted to concentrate on French and Spanish and can still take these subjects as part of the arts course she has been offered in UCD, but said it’s not what she hoped for.

“I didn’t really want to do arts. I know other people who’ve done it and they say it’s really hard to make friends, it’s just too big and the lectures are a bit all over the place. International languages is a lot more focused.”

Darker is particularly aggrieved that the higher level maths bonus could have ruined her chances of getting her chosen course, which has no maths entry requirement.

“The maths bonus messed up the whole system. I hate maths, I was never going to do honours, but I did honours Irish instead – it’s just as challenging as honours maths but you don’t get any bonus for it, it’s very unfair.”

Barry Mullen, from Rathfarnham, Dublin, did take the higher level maths paper and achieved a C1, earning those bonus points. It was unfortunately not enough to get him his first choice of business and law in UCD. “Last year it was 480 points, this year it’s 495. I got 490. It’s a real killer.”

To make things worse, his second choice, commerce international, jumped from 465 to 495 as well. He’s hoping it will come down five points on the second round, but if not he’ll take up an offer of commerce, also in UCD. Despite benefiting from the maths bonus, he thinks the scheme has been badly applied.

“The whole idea of it is to get more people to take up higher level maths. The people getting As and Bs are going to do it anyway, so they should give the people who get a D3 the 25 bonus points, 20 for a D2 and on down, but nothing extra for an A or a B.”

Cathal Crowe from Ballyconnell, Cavan was initially disappointed, but is now happy to accept his CAO offer. “I wanted to study religious education and English in Mater Dei to become a secondary school teacher. I didn’t get the points because it was 405 this year. I got offered arts and theology in NUI Maynooth and I’m happy to take it.”

The course in Mater Dei takes four years to complete, while an arts degree in Maynooth takes three years. Upon completion of an arts degree, a postgraduate degree is necessary to become a secondary school teacher.

“I am happy to take Maynooth as it will take four years to become a teacher, whatever route I take. It’s not the end of the world. I’ll be happy in Maynooth because I know a few people who are going there.”