My son has listed just four CAO courses in UCD and Trinity. Is this risky?

My advice to all CAO applicants is to use all available slots on your form

My son has listed four business degrees on his CAO list: commerce and economics & finance in UCD, along with Bess (business, economics, political science and sociology) and global business in Trinity. His guidance counsellor has advised him to broaden his course choices, but he insists these courses are the most popular choices among his class-mates. He won’t look beyond them.

Your son is correct to place his four highest preferences as choices one to four on his CAO course list, but is short-sighted in the extreme in refusing to consider other options.

Given the pattern of CAO points requirements in 2021, there is a chance that he could secure a stunning points tally of 550 in August next and receive no offer whatsoever.

It’s perfectly legitimate to aspire to study in either UCD or Trinity and to identify a business degree as your preferred course option.


Unfortunately for him, there is now huge demand on those places from Irish and international students.

My advice to all CAO applicants is to use all the available slots on your application at level eight and also at level six/seven.

If your son is keen to stay in Dublin, there are a number of business degrees which he could and should list on his CAO form.

Business degrees tend to offer a similar range of core options: accounting, economics, organisational behaviour, management theory, maths, statistics and information and communications technology (ICT).

For example, business and management at TU Dublin offers a year on a work placement in companies operating in all the key business sectors from financial services, pharmaceutical, retail and ICT to consultancy, or a year abroad in another university.

DCU has specific global business degree programmes, in partnership with universities in countries such as France, Germany, Spain, the US and Canada – where the country in which they will study for a year is selected by the student on their initial CAO application. The option to attend some of the top business schools in the world for a year – where their class-mates will have paid annual fees of $40,000-$50,000 (€36,000-€45,000) – is very attractive.

The Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) in Dún Laoghaire offers courses in business management, entrepreneurship and digital marketing. With smaller class sizes in specialist colleges they can give individual attention to each student. IADT students can also opt to study abroad through their Erasmus programme with partner universities in France, Italy, Spain, and Finland.

The National College of Ireland also offers degrees specialising in the field of human resource management and industrial relations, alongside degrees in accounting, finance, and business programmes.