Focus on Stem subjects at school leads to high points for college

CAO points show ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ as many courses are harder to get into

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin


When students who got college offers from the CAO this morning chose their Leaving Cert subjects and levels in early 2013, and made their final course choices this June, they prioritised science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects, alongside the EU languages of German, Spanish and Italian, as well as accounting.

So, as we predicted in The Irish Times last Thursday, these third-level programmes were going to be in high demand this year and the entry points were going to rise.

The most significant increases in points for entry across all colleges, published in our First Round Offers supplement today, are in Stem programmes, commerce and international business courses, law, and construction disciplines. To paraphrase a much hackneyed phrase: “It’s the economy stupid.”

These trends, and particularly the growth of demand for Stem places, underpins the argument by both Irish government trade missions and the IDA, to high technology multinational corporations, promoting Ireland as a location for investment.

Students starting these programmes next month will hope economic growth continues over the next few years, creating quality employment opportunities for them after graduation.

The Government will hope this growing interest in Stem at second level continues.

Much is expected of the report of the Stem Education Review Group, chaired by DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith, whose report was submitted to Minister Jan O’Sullivan a number of weeks ago.

It is believed to contain significant recommendations, to ensure students have access to high quality teaching and infrastructure, to drive and consolidate students’ interest and take-up of these subjects.

All the disciplines below have seen an across-the-board increase in points requirements for college entry.


nCommon entry to science and analytical science in DCU is up 10 points to 470 and 20 points to 460 respectively.

nBiological and chemical sciences and biological, earth and environmental science in UCC are up 25 and 15 points respectively to 470 and 435.

nScience in NUIG is up 10 to 410. Science in NUIM is up five to 405, while in UL it is up 35 to 400. In DIT it’s up 25 to 460.

nScience in both UCD and Trinity dropped by five points to both stand at 510.


Engineering in UCD is up 15 to 510 and in Trinity is up 25 to 495*. Engineering in NUIG is up 50 to 450, and in UL it is up 20 to 425. Common entry engineering in DCU is up 15 to 390and in CIT is up 40 to 390.

Biomedical engineering in UL is up 35 to 450, up 65 to 485 in NUIG, up 10 to 400 in DCU, and in CIT it is up 25 to 435.

Civil engineering in UL is up 25 to 475, in NUIG it’s up 35 to 450 and in GMIT up 40 to 245.


Maths in Trinity is up 30 to 570 and in UL it is up 45 to 435.

Actuarial financial and mathematical sciences in DCU (common entry to maths) is up 20 to 500.


Commerce in UCD is up 10 to 500. Business economic and social studies (BESS) in Trinity is up 15 to 510. Commerce in NUIG is up 10 to 390. Business studies in UL is up 15 to 420. Commerce in UCC is up 20 to 455. Business studies in DCU is up 10 to 465.

Business and management in DIT is up 15 to 445. Business and law in UCD has risen by up 10 to 530.

n Finance in UCC is up 25 to 505. Actuarial and finance in UCD is up 15 to 575.


Law and society (BCL) in DCU is up 20 to 435. Law in Trinity is up 10 to 540, in UCD it is up 10 to 520 and in UCC it has risen by 10 to 490. Law with arts and law (LLB) in NUIM are up five to 450 and 455 respectively.

nLaw (LLB) in DIT is up five to 420, and Business and law is up 15 to 465. Law and accounting in UL is up 20 to 435.

nLaw with French in Trinity is up 25 to 585. Law and Irish in UCC is up 25 to 510.

Some areas have not seen increased demand this year.


By far the biggest courses in all seven universities, offering over 6,000 places between them, are arts faculties. Arts in UCD is offering over 1,200 places this year, and its points have dropped five to 335. Arts in Maynooth University, which offers over 1,000 places, sees points remain at 350. Arts in NUIG remains at 300 and in UCC it has gone up five to 350.


One of the biggest drops in first preference demand has been in agricultural science programmes. Agriculture science in WIT is down 15 to 415. Surprisingly agricultural science is up five to 470 in UCD which the college attributes to the high calibre of applicants for this in 2015, despite a significant decrease in applications.


The recovery in construction is reflected in an increase in demand. Points are up 20 in the joint programmes at UCC and CIT to 440, they are up 10 in WIT to 310, up five in UL to 390 and remains unchanged at 490 at UCD and 590 at DIT (points at DIT include a portfolio score).

Computer science

The surge in demand for places in computer science continues in 2015 and, despite an increase in places in 2014, points are up across the board this year. Computer science in Trinity is up 25 to 490, in UCD it is up five to 475, in UCC it is up 10 to 440 and in DIT it remains at 425.

Construction management

Points are up, reflecting growing confidence in construction. Construction management in LIT is up 25 to 250, in GMIT it is up 25 to 250, in DIT is up 15 to 315 and in CIT it stays at 240.

Primary teaching

Points are up five to 470 in St Patrick’s College Drumcondra (integrated with DCU) and Mary Immaculate in Limerick. They are also up five to 465 in Marino, but down 10 to 500 in Maynooth and down 15 in Church of Ireland College to 385. Education and psychology in Mary Immaculate is up 10 to 560.


Demand for places in general nursing are largely unchanged and this is reflected in points across all 14 programmes. Requirements are down in seven, up in three and unchanged in four. They are highest at 460 in NUIG and UL and lowest in Letterkenny at 390.


Traditional journalism is dropping in popularity but new media courses are more popular. Journalism in DIT is down 15 and in DCU it is down five to 435. Journalism and new media in UL is up 50 to 415.


Having dropped by 14-18 points last year, following restructuring of the HPat scoring system, points for undergraduate medicine have increased by two to three across all five undergraduate programmes. Points are highest in UCD at 736, followed by Trinity at 733, RCSI at 729, UCC at 726 and NUIG at 723 (which include the HPat scores).

Occupational therapy

Points for occupational therapy are up by 15-20 points across all three colleges. In Trinity it has risen by 15 to 515, NUIG is up 20 to 535, and in UCC it has risen by 15 to 540.


Requirements have dropped by 10-15 points across all three. Trinity is down 15 to 550, RCSI down 10 to 545, and UCC down 10 to 555.


Points have dropped by 5-10 points across three providers and increased by five in one. Trinity is down five to 540, RCSI is down five to 535, UCD is down 10 to 545 and UL is up five to 560.

Social science

There has been strong growth in interest across the board this year. Points are up 10 in Maynooth to 390, 15 in UCD to 405, 20 in UCC to 435. Points remain unchanged in Trinity at 460 and are down 10 in WIT to 290.

Veterinary medicine

Veterinary medicine is down five in UCD to 575.

All the CAO points are published in today’s First Round Offers 2015 supplement.