Record-breaking grades and high demand see significant rise in CAO points requirements

Dozens of students with more than 600 points miss out on preferred programmes

CAO points for entry into many college courses have jumped to a record high, with some students failing to get into courses despite securing more than 600 points.

About 20 college courses across universities such as Trinity, UCD, DCU, NUI Galway, RCSI and UL broke the 600-point barrier this year. This is up from seven courses last year and just one the year before.

Of these, four courses reached the maximum threshold of 625 points for the first time.

They are management science at UCC, economic and finance at UCD and dental science as well as management science at Trinity.


Almost all of these 600 point-plus courses are on random selection. This means students with these are points not guaranteed a place.

As a result, dozens of high-scoring students have missed out on their first preference courses, despite securing the points needed.

The development has prompted higher education sources to describe the development as “unfair” and “cruel” to some of this year’s high-performing candidates.

A combination of record-breaking Leaving Certificate results and higher numbers of college applicants – 84,000 – have pushed CAO points higher for most honours degree courses this year.

Overall, it is estimated that two-thirds of this year’s CAO honours degree courses have increased in points.

A record 84,874 individuals applied for college this year, driven by a combination of more Leaving Cert students, greater interest from overseas and mature students returning to education.

The CAO today issued round one college offers to just over 55,000 applicants. A total of 50 per cent of college offers at honours degree level (level eight) are for applicants’ first preference choices, while 79 per cent are for one of their top-three preferences.

600-point courses

At Trinity, a record eight courses climbed above the 600-point mark.

They include management science and information systems (625 points); dental science (625, +12 points); pharmacy (613, +23 points); global business (613, +24 points); philosophy, political science, economics and sociology (613, +24 points); law and French (602, +37 points); psychology (601, +34 points); human health and disease (601, +36 points).

Medicine at Trinity was also up by eight points to 743, which includes the Hpat score.

At UCD, five courses broke the 600-point mark. They include actuarial and financial studies, veterinary medicine, physiotherapy, biomedical, health & life sciences. Economics and finance is the highest point degree at 625.

Medicine at UCD was also up by seven points to 743 (including Hpat scores).

At UCC, three courses broke the 600-point barrier including dentistry (625), pharmacy (613), and occupational therapy (601).

At DCU, two courses reached beyond the 600-point level – global business (USA) (613) and global business (Canada) (601) – while at RCSI pharmacy reached a new high (613 points).

Similarly, NUI Galway’s biomedical science (613) and occupational therapy (601) climbed to this level, as did UL’s physiotherapy course (613) and TU Dublin’s human nutrition and dietetics (601).


CAO applicants can check to see if they have received an offer by logging in to their account using the "my application" facility at from 2pm on Tuesday.

Successful applicants will also receive an offer notification via email and a text message if they have selected this option.

Offers must be accepted by 3pm on Monday, September 13th.

Round two offers will be available to view on the CAO website from 10am on September 20th.

The reply date by which round two offers must be accepted is September 22nd at 3pm. Offers are then issued on a weekly basis to fill any remaining places.

Eileen Keleghan, the CAO's communications officer, has asked applicants to carefully consider any offers received in this round.

“One of the common queries that we receive at the offers stage is around order of preference. Applicants who receive a lower preference offer can accept this offer and it will not prevent them from receiving an offer of a course higher up on their courses list in a later round should a place become available and they are deemed eligible,” she said.

“Those who have received an offer in this round should also consider the current offer carefully as it may be the only one they will receive.”

If an applicant has not received an offer they will receive a “statement of application” email.

Ms Keleghan said it is important that applicants notify CAO immediately if there are any errors or omissions in their CAO account.

“They must make sure to do this as soon as possible to allow any corrections to be considered for subsequent rounds,” she said.

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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