Points needed for college unlikely to change much this year

The number seeking places in arts and science degrees is unchanged

Newly conferred graduates on the front square at Trinity College Dublin. A small increase in third-level applicants is expected to mean there will be little impact on points requirements. Photograph: Frank Miller

The points requirements for college places under the Central Applications Office system are expected to change little from last year, based on a detailed analysis of students’ first preferences.

The deadline for students to indicate their final choices to the CAO was July 1st. The overall number of applicants this year is similar to last, with 67,249 seeking a level 8 higher degree place, up slightly from 67,172. At levels 7 and 6, ordinary degree/higher certificate applicant numbers are down from 49,593 to 48,680.

The small increase in applicants is expected to mean there will be little impact on the points requirements, although there have been a few notable exceptions. These include an increase in demand for business places and a general but minor fall in the numbers of first-preference choices for healthcare courses.

Meanwhile, the first round of CAO offers to this year’s mature student applicants is now complete, with 5,384 third-level college places in 43 institutions having been accepted by the closing date last Friday. These acceptances were based on offers through the CAO made on behalf of colleges, with 8,576 places offered to more than 7,225 applicants on July 5th.


Theses applicants, aged over 23, were predominantly classified as “mature” by the CAO. They completed the application process in February and presented their cases for receiving an offer in their desired course both in writing and, in many cases, through follow-up interview.

Their performance in past examinations, eg Leaving Cert, was not an impediment to receiving an offer. Applicants who sought a deferral of a place during last year’s offer season also received offers in the recently completed round.

The next round will take place on July 31st, when those students seeking places based on Fetac level 5 awards, among others, will receive their offers.

They will have a week to consider them before the offers lapse. Offers are available online and will also be posted to correspondence addresses.

Students at third-level institutions who have failed exams or who have decided their current course is not for them have until Monday next, July 22nd, to submit a new application to the CAO, stamped by the current institution, for inclusion in the main body of college place offers.

These will be made on Monday, August 19th, following the publication of this year’s Leaving Cert results on August 14th. Applications can be made at cao.ie

The pattern of applications to the 17 course groupings as classified by the CAO have changed marginally since 2012, which should result in only small movements in entry points requirements.

The number seeking places in both arts and science degrees is unchanged since 2012, which should lead to very little points movement, although the pattern of application to individual colleges could change marginally.

The largest increase in interest among current college applicants is in the area of commerce/business, which has seen a 6.5 per cent increase in first choice applications from 10,525 to 11,203.

The ongoing good news stories from Government, Forfás and other State agencies regarding opportunities in the "Stem" subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths have led to an increase in applications in these disciplines in the past five years.

This trend is evident again this year with engineering/ technology level 8 courses attracting 6,428 first-choice applicants, an increase of 3.5 per cent on 2012.

Again reflecting positive news from the agriculture/food industry, first-choice applications for these programmes at level 8 are up over 10 per cent on last year. This will be reflected in higher entry points requirements this year, unless colleges increase the numbers of places on offer.

The largest fall-off in interest among level 8 applicants is in primary school teaching, with numbers down 387, or 7.5 per cent, to 4,735 first-choice applicants.

This reflects both the loss of earnings as a result of public service pay cuts as well as the difficulty encountered by many graduates in getting jobs.

Given that the annual birth rate now stands at 75,000, up from the current Leaving Cert year group of 54,000, there is certain to be a big increase in full-time teaching positions at both primary and post-primary levels over the next 10 years.

First-choice applications for pharmacy places have dropped 17 per cent, to 391, from 470 in 2012. Applications for all other paramedical degrees at level 8 are also down: dentistry by 7 per cent, veterinary by 6 per cent, physiotherapy by 4 per cent and nursing by 2 per cent.

Applications for medicine itself are up marginally by 1 per cent to 3,115, which is bad news for those applicants who were hoping for some decrease in the extremely high points and Hpat score requirements.

The collapse in interest in courses related to construction continues in 2013. Interest in law is down 2.5 per cent.