CAO 2017: What’s up and what’s down

Points have gone up for courses linked to growing economy

Entry to the degree course in business and law in UCD is up nine points, to 529. Photograph: Alan Betson

Entry to the degree course in business and law in UCD is up nine points, to 529. Photograph: Alan Betson


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The confidence engendered by the growing strength of the Irish economy is reflected in the CAO points requirements published this morning.

The areas where the number of applications increased most sharply – construction, business, law – all see points increases, for the most part.

Given that there is a totally new CAO points scale this year, alongside a new grading system, it is not surprising that only a small number of courses have the same points requirements as in 2016.

Overall, most level-eight degree courses have seen a decrease in points requirements this year, but this does not necessarily reflect a drop in demand among applicants. It may be a reflection of the new grading system taking effect or sharp growth in the number of places available on individual programmes.


The confidence in construction-related careers is reflected in programmes such as architecture in DIT which is up 30, as is planning, geography and the environment in UCD.

Also, reflecting this trend, construction-management and quantity-surveying programmes have all increased in points requirements. Project and construction management is up 15 in NUI Galway, and quantity-surveying and construction economics is up 20 in the DIT.


Confidence in the opportunity economic growth will bring to legal firms has seen demand for places and points increases across the board in law. Law is up seven in Trinity to 542, law and society is up five in DCU to 455. Business and law in UCD is up nine to 529.


Business programmes themselves, which offer 8,920 level-eight places this morning– representing more than 20 per cent of overall places at this level – have also seen increased demand for places, and thus higher points requirements this year.

Business, economics and social studies in Trinity is up a further 10 to 520*, commerce in NUIG is up seven to 407, and up five to 505 in UCD. Actuarial and finance in UCD is up 17 to 577, and actuarial maths is up 39 in DCU to 554.

Medicine Medical and paramedical careers have retained strong demand with occupational therapy up 11 in NUI Galway to 531, physiotherapy in UL is up 10 to 565 and by eight in Trinity to 543* and three in UCD to 553.

Speech and language therapy in UCC is up eight to 523. Human nutrition and dietetics is up four in the DIT to 554. Veterinary medicine in UCD is down six to 564.

Points for undergraduate medicine are up slightly, by four in UCD, RSI and UCC to 734, 729 and 730, and by two in Trinity to 732.


Nursing is down in points requirements in 34 programmes, but may also be linked to the fact that the number of places has increased by several hundred due to a Department of Health decision to restore places removed as an economic measure in 2012.

Similarly, radiography in UCD is down 26 to 509, due totally to an increase in place numbers, to deal with an acute shortage of staff in the sector.


Applicant numbers for teaching are down in 2017. This decrease is reflected in points requirements at both second level and to a lesser extent at primary.

Home Economics with Irish in St Angela’s is down 36 to 409, but their other three programmes, which link home economics with economics, biology and religious education, are relatively unchanged.

The three programmes previously offered by Mater Dei, which have now been integrated into DCU, are all down considerably.

Religious education with history is down 30 to 350, with English by 23 to 377 and by 13 with music to 357. Music education in Trinity is down 26 to 429. Science/maths education in Maynooth is down 14 to 441. Sport and physical education in UCC is down 13 to 477.

At primary level points are down 10 in Maynooth to 485, by nine in Marino to 451 and by three in DCU to 462. They are up one in Mary Immaculate at 466.


The largest programmes at level-eight honours degree are, once again, in arts/social sciences. Some 12,362 places are being offered in this area today.

Applicants have not associated career opportunities generated by economic growth as strongly with an arts degree as with other programmes.

This perception is reflected in the points requirements in 2017. Arts is down 27 in DCU to 358, down nine in UCC to 346, down three in Maynooth to 327, up six in UCD to 326 and down eight in WIT to 267.

Social science

Social science programmes have also seen a drop in demand and points requirements in 2017. Social science in UCC is down 22 to 403. At UCD, the same course is down by 14 to 401, and at DIT it is down 12 to 393. Maynooth’s is down by nine to 366, while Trinity’s social studies/social work (TR084 ) is down 16 to 454.


Demand for science degree places has eased in 2017 and this again is reflected in points requirements. Nonetheless, they still account for a large chunk of places – some 6,660.

Science in down across a numbers of universities such as Maynooth, Trinity, UCD and DCU.

UCC’s biological and chemical sciences programme is up nine to 489. Computer science points requirements are down eight and seven respectively in UCD and, in DIT, to 477 and 443.

Engineering programmes offer 5,272 places, or more than 12 per cent of level-eight programmes.

Points requirements have dropped considerably this year, reflecting a loss of interest among applicants, which will be a matter of some serious concern to the Government, which is keen to increase the supply of high-quality graduates in this field.


General engineering is down 30 in Trinity to 470, down 36 in UCC to 454, down 16 in UCD to 499, down 44 in NUI Galway to 401 and 24 in DCU to 381. Aeronautical and electrical engineering in UL are down 13 and 12 points respectively, to 487 and 413.

Biomedical engineering programmes are also lower this year. NUI Galway’s (GY408) is down 20 to 480, as is DCU’s (DC197) by seven to 412.

CIT bucks the trend with an increase in points requirement for its biomedical engineering programme (CR520) up 14 to 444.

*Denotes entry is based on random selection