Regional variation in CAO points trends

Architecture, business and engineering among big movers


Points requirements for CAO courses were bound to rise this year for a number of factors, including the increased numbers of students sitting the Leaving Cert and the record number of students getting 25 bonus points for passing higher level maths. But, as ever, the extent and range of increases has been determined by student demand.

Some 28 per cent of university places go to those seeking arts/humanities places each year and these applicants will be happy to know that there has been no increase in the numbers seeking such places in 2014.

Points for arts were unchanged both at UCD at 340, and NUIG at 300. They were down 10 in UL (joint honours) at 430, down 10 in NUIM at 350, and up 10 in UCC at 345.

Science applicants for honours degree programmes which account for a further 18 per cent of university places have remained constant this year at 9,452 students listing science as their first choice, which sees points remaining in or around the 500 mark.

But there is a regional variation here. They are up 10 in UCD, up five in Trinity College Dublin, down five in Galway, down 15 in NUIM, and unchanged in UCC.

Reflecting what is happening in the real economy, the most dramatic increase in demand for places this year at 140 per cent is in the area of construction – in disciplines such as quantity and building surveying and construction management.

At Dublin Institute of Technology, construction management is up 40 and quantity surveying is up 45 points.

Architecture courses

This return of confidence in the economy among applicants is also reflected in increased demand and therefore higher points requirements at honours degree level for architecture (up 13.5 per cent), engineering (up 5.8 per cent), business (up 4.4 per cent), and law (up 5.5 per cent).

Architecture is up 25 points in UCD, 70 in DIT, 10 in Limerick. Structural engineering with architecture in UCD is up 20. Engineering is up 20 in UCD, and five in Trinity, DIT and CIT.

Business is up 25 at NCI, Business information systems is up 40 in CIT; commerce is up 15 in UCD, 15 in DCU and DIT, and five in NUIG. Business, economic and social sciences is unchanged in Trinity while business is down five in UL.

Law is up 20 in UL, law and business and law are up 10 in UCD, civil law is up 10 in NUIG, law is unchanged in Trinity and UCC and DCU (BCL).

Agriculture and food science is also up again. Food science is up 20 and agriculture science is up 10 in UCD. Food science and health is up 40 in UL and food science is up five in UCC.

Applications for places on teacher-training programmes in the education sector are up 5.2 per cent this year, which is pushing the already-high points requirements of about 460. Primary teaching is up 15 in NUIM, up five in St Pat’s and unchanged in Mary Immaculate and Marino.

In the area of healthcare, demand for courses is up across the board, but down 7.8 per cent for medicine and 5.4 per cent for nursing studies.

The revision of the HPAT test to reduce the percentage of marks awarded for section C from a third of overall marks to 20 per cent (from 33 per cent) has had a dramatic effect in reducing the points requirements for undergraduate medicine this year. In Trinity and RCSI, first-round points are down 15, in NUIG and UCC they are down 18, and in UCD down 14.

The drop in nursing application numbers of 320 down to 5,572 has had some impact on points. Nursing points remain unchanged in five colleges, are down in seven and up in two.

Occupational therapy

All other health-related programmes show a sharp increase in demand this year. At honours degree level, in areas such as occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, nutrition and health promotion, demand is up 46 per cent. Demand for physiotherapy places has also increased by over 10 per cent. But not all of this has been translated into point increases.

Health and performance science is up 15 points in UCD; human nutrition is up five in UCD; human nutrition and dietetics is up 10 in DIT; occupational therapy is unchanged in UCC and down 10 in NUIG and Trinity. Physiotherapy is up 10 in UCD, RSCI and Trinity but down five in UL. Pharmacy is unchanged UCC, RCSI and Trinity.

Veterinary medicine in UCD traditionally has one the highest points requirements with 629 applicants this year, chasing the 85 available places, some of which are reserved for students from Northern Ireland. First-round offers are being made at 580 points, five points up on last year.

One group of students seeing an easing of points requirements are those seeking art and design places which have seen a drop-off in demand of 7 and 12 per cent respectively at level eight and seven/six. Art and design in LIT, the biggest such course in the country with 170 places, is down 11 points.

As in construction four or five years ago, those students who ignore current market sentiment and apply for programmes which genuinely interest them will reap the benefits of their choices following graduation.

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