CAO 2018: ‘Available places’ is an option for unhappy students

Unfilled college places are due to come onstream for those with unsatisfactory offers

Our helpdesk had many inquiries from CAO applicants who had not received a satisfactory offer on Monday and are wondering about their options.

The “available places” facility is one option. These are places on courses which remain unfilled after all offers have been made. They usually include courses in private colleges and some institutes of technology.

If you are an existing CAO applicant and want to consider this option, simply login to the “my application” facility and select “add available place’ for the relevant level.

There is no extra charge for existing applicants; just be sure that you meet the normal minimum entry requirements for the course in question.

Remember, an application does not guarantee an offer, although applicants can ignore previously published points in earlier offer rounds.

Existing applicants should be careful to remember to place their courses in genuine order of preference.

If you still wish to be considered for any existing courses, you must insert all “available place” courses below those you want to retain.

Assuming this is an option you want to pursue, there’s not much time to waste: places can fill up very quickly for the more popular courses.

Just be sure to do your research and apply for a course only if it genuinely interests you. If you’re just applying out of desperation, there’s a high chance you may end up dropping out.

After round two offers have been issued on Wednesday, 29th August at 10am, “available places” applications that arrive at the CAO before 11am on the following Monday will be processed and considered for offers on the following Thursday – this process will continue until mid-October or until all available places have been filled.

For more information on the "available places" facility visit, check out the CAO's website (


The Irish Times helpdesk has also had inquiries since Monday about the accessibility of Maynooth University for students living in south Dublin, who had expected to receive an offer of an arts course in UCD. A spike in points means many have been disappointed.

There are a range of direct rail commuter services via the Dart/Maynooth commuter line, as well as a dedicated frequent commuter bus service from many parts of south Dublin several times each day.

For those who don't want to travel to Maynooth daily and wish to reside in Maynooth for the academic year, there are apartments on campus and an online portal which details accommodation options off-campus.

A further release of campus accommodation is being made available tomorrow at noon, which are reserved for first years. Further details are on the Maynooth website.


Students who received an offer of a course in round one last Monday who have decided to seek a deferment of a place, need to do so by today, to facilitate the college in processing their application prior to Friday’s 5.15pm close-of-offer deadline.

One caller wanted to know what happens if you receive a higher offer in round two or subsequent rounds and wish to accept the new offer but again defer it for a year.

Simply repeat the process as in round one, but you can hold only one deferred place, so you will relinquish your initial deferred place.

Course places

Some disappointed applicants who did not receive an offer on a particular course wanted to know how many places the college offered in that programme.

There is no secret about this information, as it is published alongside the data about the course in each college prospectus, and on each course page on the Qualifax ( website. But it is not provided alongside the information on minimum course entry requirements published by the CAO on Monday 20th last.

Obviously, to publish this information would be useful to prospective applicants in deciding whether they want to study in large or small class groups, or in the case of courses with very small numbers of places, to evaluate whether it was worth using up one of their course preferences.

This is a matter for the CAO. It should consider releasing the minimum entry points alongside the number of places offered to date in each round. Surely, the more information an applicant has, the better the quality of the decision they make.

The Irish Times free online helpdesk is available today from 10am to 1pm to answer any of your CAO queries: