Applicants for arts degrees the big winners in scramble for college places

CAO points reflect continued swing toward sciences, business

Students attending the Open Day at Trinity College Dublin. Photographer: Dara MacDónaill

Students attending the Open Day at Trinity College Dublin. Photographer: Dara MacDónaill


The CAO points requirements this morning reflect the changing pattern of student applications this year.

They also reflect the 25 bonus points for maths awarded to 1,883 students who chose higher maths at higher level this year. This change introduces an additional 314,288 points into the CAO system.

The ongoing surge in interest in the agriculture/food industry, which has been evident for the past six years, saw a 10 per cent growth in first-place applications this year.

This growth has resulted in a rise in points requirements for all courses in the two main colleges offering these programmes, UCD and UCC.

Having lost momentum since the crash of 2008, first preference interest in business and commerce courses has grown by 6.5 per cent this year.

This, along with the maths bonus points effect, has seen points for courses increase across the board. Commerce in UCD is up 10 points to 475 and up 35 in NUIG to 375.

Engineering/technology level 8 courses have attracted 6,428 first-choice applicants this year, an increase of 3.5 per cent on 2012.

These courses also attract applications from higher maths students – exclusively in the case of engineering, and predominantly in the fields of science/technology.

Common entry engineering in UCD is up 15 points to 475 and up 20 to 390 in DCU.

The rise in points requirements for science continues in 2013, partly as a result of the bonus points effect.

Common entry science requirements have increased by a further five points in UCD to 505 and remain at 510* with random selection in Trinity.

Computer Science programmes are hugely popular again this year, reflecting the growing concentration of the world’s leading technology firms in Ireland, with the resultant job opportunities for computer science graduates.

The ongoing popularity of courses in the areas of sports and sports management is reflected in the points requirements for 2013. Sport and exercise management is up five points in UCD to 430. Sport and exercise science in UL is up 25 points to 480.

The overall number of first-choice applicants for law has not increased this year but points are marginally up across the board, yet again reflecting the ripple effect of the maths bonus points.

Law is up five points each in Trinity, UCD and UCC to 530, 500 and 480 respectively.

Many students interested in careers in journalism have questioned their career prospects in the era of social media. This year students have overcome their fears. Journalism and new media is up 30 points in UL to 410. Journalism is up in DCU by 25 points to 435 and in DIT by five to 405.

This year’s big winners in securing their desired CAO courses are those seeking places in the big arts faculties in our seven universities. Points are down across the board. The biggest course in the country, arts in UCD is down 15 points to 340. Arts in NUIM is down 10 to 360. Entry points remain at 335 and 300 in UCC and NUIG.

The final application statistics from the CAO which became available in July showed there had been a 7.5 per cent decrease in first-place applications to primary school teaching courses. This was a surprise, given the certainty of jobs in the field in four years’ time due to the 75,000 per year birth rate.

The points required for the two main teacher training colleges of St Patrick’s Drumcondra and Mary Immaculate in Limerick are down by 10 and five points respectively to 460* random selection and 465.

Points for the new NUIM primary school teaching degree have risen 30 to 495. Now the only primary school teacher training degree, and attracting close to 90 per cent female applicants, it is taught on a university campus giving students all of the opportunities, in terms of academic, cultural and social life this entails.

This may go some way to explaining the surge in interest in this programme. Early childhood teaching and specific second-level programmes points requirements are down across the board.

Another area affected by cutbacks is that of nursing. Points requirements are down across the board in general, children’s, psychiatric and disability nursing courses. Eleven of the 13 general nursing programmes have seen points drop, the exceptions being NUIG and DCU which are up 15 and five points respectively.

Medical courses
All areas of medical and para medical courses, other than undergraduate medicine saw a fall-off in interest this year, with pharmacy down 17 per cent. This decrease in application numbers is reflected in the points required across all para medical courses published today. Undergraduate medicine itself, which saw a 1 per cent increase in first-choice application numbers this year has seen points requirements rise in all five colleges.

With only 211 applicants listing a built environment course as their first choice, the points requirements were bound to fall again this year. Architecture, which is so dependent on the construction industry, is down 25 points in DIT to 520, down 15 in UCD to 465, five in UL to 375 and 35 in WIT to 300.