Five big take-aways from this year’s CAO results

Students shy away from arts and head for job-ready engineering, science and construction

In business – another area with strong projected job growth – points remains strong and steady.

In business – another area with strong projected job growth – points remains strong and steady.


* Click here to download a PDF of the CAO’s 2018 Round One offers:

This morning more than 50,000 applicants will receive an offer from the CAO on behalf of the 44 institutions who provide their places on courses through this structure. Here’s are some of the big trends from this year’s figures.

1. Students fall out of love with the arts

A fall in applications for arts programmes this year is reflected in a decrease in points requirements across most courses.

Maynooth – which is now the biggest programme in the country with 1,400 places – is down 7 to 320, UCC is down 46 to 300, DCU is down 2 to 356, Mary I down 16 to 320 and NUI Galway remains unchanged at 300.

Creative arts programmes have plummeted in some cases, while journalism courses are also down significantly.

The big talking point, however, is the impact of UCD’s changes to its traditional arts offering .

It has replaced its old arts degree with three new streams, which has had a mixed impact on points.

Last year, arts at UCD was 326 points. This year, there has been a sharp decline in the number of places from 1,280 to 350 on the course that most resembles the old three-year arts degree.

This has pushed points up to 381 – or 50 points more than last year. This is likely to exclude many who were sure of a place.

Many other traditional arts subjects have ended up in social science, a new four-year programme where points are at 392. This, also, is set to disappoint many would-be students.

Have your say: Was your Arts degree worth it?

By contrast, points for UCD’s new four-year BA humanities course stand at just 301, while points for its social policy (social work) degree are just 291, indicating that many are unsure what to make of the changes.

The last of the new BA courses at UCD, modern languages, is down from 464 to 399, a fall of 65.

This may be good news for students, but will disappoint many academics and industry figures who have expressed concerns about a shortage of workers with a second language.

2. It’s all about job, jobs, jobs

Students – who grew up during the economic downturn – are opting for courses where they can expect to walk into jobs.

Engineering and architecture is in high demand. Engineering in Trinity is up 18 to 488, at UCD it is up 11 to 510, at Maynooth it is up by 50 to 414, and in NUI Galway by 31 to 432.

Some engineering courses have bucked the trend such as engineering at UL, which is down 21 to 422, and in UCC, down 11 to 443.

Architecture is up six in UCD to 498 and in UCC/CIT it is up three to 447. In a related area, construction management is up 20 at DIT to 346.

In business – another area with strong projected job growth – points remains strong and steady. Teaching and nursing are also areas where there are skills shortages – so it’s no surprise that they are also in strong demand. Points are up for most primary and secondary teaching courses, even with additional places on offer this year.

Many nursing courses also see their points increase. UCD’s children and general nursing is up 10 to 477, while Trinity’s equivalent falls by 11 points to 473.

3. Stem’s mixed performance

Industry, government and business have placed a huge focus on Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) given projected skills gaps in these areas.

While demand is strong for engineering and many science courses, points have fallen for both physics and technology course, which may alarm many in the sector.

General science, for the most part, remains steady at UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and DIT. Trinity changed its offering this year, so it’s hard to compare year on year, though points here are high.

Degrees in physics-related courses, however, are down considerably in points requirement, despite a decrease in the numbers of places offered.

There has been a sharp decrease in points for computer science programmes across the country, even though industry figures say there is a critical skills shortage looming.

Points are down 23 in Trinity to 444, 16 in UCC to 403. Computer applications in DCU is down 13 to 377. Computer science with Language in Trinity is also down 93 to 350, while computer technologies in UL is down 12 to 332.

4. Medicine as competitive as ever

Medicine remains hugely popular – and as highly competitive as ever. Points remain steady for medicine at the RSCI (730), Trinity (731), UCD (734), UCC (729) and NUI Galway (725). Points for dentistry, paramedical programmes also remain on high points.

5. Colleges are adjusting their intake based on demand

CAO points for individual course are based on supply (the number of places on offer) and demand (the number of applicants).

Normally, you would expect points to drop where there is a decrease in application, and vice versa. However, colleges are responding to the change in the pattern of demand among applicants by increasing and decreasing the numbers of places on offer accordingly.

As a result, points for some courses may increase – even though demand is falling. This year, colleges reduced the number of places for business, ICT and journalism programmes. By contrast, there were extra places added to programmes such as biological and related sciences.