CAO applications rise to over 73,000 for higher education courses

Modest 400 applicant increase reverses last year’s fall in applications

More  than 73,000 people have applied through the  CAO for a place in higher education Photograph: Cyril Byrne

More than 73,000 people have applied through the CAO for a place in higher education Photograph: Cyril Byrne


The number of CAO applications this year has increased slightly with more than 73,000 people applying for a place in higher education.

The modest increase of just over 400 applications, or 0.6 per cent, reverses last year’s trend when the total number of applications fell by 5 per cent. This was due mainly due a decline in mature applicants.

A breakdown of applications by the type of programme is likely to be published over the coming weeks.

This will give a better indication of whether points are likely to rise or fall across different areas of study.

In a statement on Friday, the CAO confirmed that 73,157 people applied for a CAO place ahead of the deadline which expired at 5.15pm on February 1st.

When compared with the same period last year, there has been an increase of 406 applications.

The CAO added that this figure does not represent the total number of CAO applicants as a late application facility opens on March 5th and closes on the May 1st.

Change of mind exceptions

The highest number of CAO applications in recent years was recorded in 2016, when 76,227 had applied at the end of February.

A change of course choices facility will become available on the CAO website on February 5th for all registered applicants.

This is aimed at allowing mature applicants to add course choices and for applicants who have forgotten to include a restricted course on their CAO application - a fee of €10 applies.

Most applicants will be able to use the CAO’s free “change of mind” facility which opens in May and closes on July 1st.

However, CAO communications officer Eileen Keleghan said there were exceptions to this.

“If an applicant has forgotten to apply for a restricted course, or if they are a mature applicant wishing to make changes to their courses, they should avail of our change of course choices facility, which opens on February 5th and is available until 5:15pm on March 1st for €10,” she said.

She said a late application facility will also become available on March 4th and closes on May 1st with an application fee of €60 for online applicants and €90 for paper applicants.

“Students with concerns about their options or their application should consult their guidance counsellor, the admissions officers in the individual institutions, and read the CAO handbook,” she said.

“If they cannot find the answer to their application query they can email CAO using the contact page on the website,” she added.