Competition for college courses reaching ‘alarming levels’

UCD students union president says development `incredibly concerning'

The fact that a college course has broken the 600 CAO point barrier for the first time ever is a sign that competition for courses is reaching “alarming levels”, it has been claimed.

In this week’s CAO offers, UCD’s economics and finance course emerged as the most oversubscribed in the country, with an entry requirement of 601 points.

UCD students union president Joanna Siewierska said the development was "incredibly concerning".

“The competition to enter higher education is reaching an alarming level. It is disappointing to see that such a limited system of assessing our young people’s talents and abilities remains the main gateway for entering higher education,” she said.


CAO points generally reflect supply and demand for individual courses, although other factors, such as students’ academic attainment and the number of available places, also influence requirements.

Ms Siewierska said success in the Leaving Cert required rote-learning skills and the ability to work under immense pressure.

“There is very limited scope for repeating exams in the case of personal circumstances and for capturing any other skills and abilities of young people,” she said.

“Points this high will undoubtedly discourage many incredibly bright and talented students from even applying to those courses. We need to ask ourselves if we are really getting the right people for the right courses.”

A spokeswoman for UCD acknowledged the 601-point course reflected strong competition for the course’s 50 places. But she pointed out the college also offered a variety of courses, ranging from 300 to 600 points.

Latest CAO figures, meanwhile, show that more than 30,000 students have accepted college offers. More than 50,000 offers were made to students on Thursday afternoon.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent