Stem steams ahead as students abandon the arts ship

Points for arts courses fall to a new low as students question value of such degrees

Students have been bombarded by calls to study science, technology, engineering and maths over the past few years. The message seems to be working, as points for those courses have risen across the board for the first round of CAO offers.

Points for arts courses have fallen to a new low as students question the value of those degrees, although they still remain the largest courses in the State. Meanwhile, after a number of years of growth, students appear to be slowly moving away from agriculture courses.

There’s some good news for medicine students as points have fallen, albeit only very slightly. One of the more interesting features of today’s round one offers is the rise in demand for places on early childhood education courses, which may have a knock-on effect on education policy and lead to irresistible pressure for increased wages in the sector.



Demand for on arts and humanities degrees has fallen to a new low. UCD’s arts programme is still the largest course in the country, with almost 1,200 places but, for the second year in a row, CAO points have fallen, down by 15 to 320 for both the full and part-time arts degree programmes.

NUIG’s suite of arts degree programme show drops. While its flagship arts programme, which has the largest number of students, stays at 300, almost all its other arts degree programmes including public and social policy, psychology, children’s studies, Irish studies, performing arts and human rights are down. At DCU, the arts degree is down from 390 to 385.

At DCU, points for journalism are down from 435 to 420, but the communication studies course is up from 420 to 445. Journalism at DIT stays steady at 380.


Once again, points for most science courses are up. This follows a trend that has been evident since the start of the recession and was interrupted only briefly last year, when points for many science courses stayed steady or decreases slightly. Most UCC science courses have also seen a rise, including physics and astrophysics which goes from 505 to 525 and genetics which is up from 455 to 480.

General entry science at DIT is up from 460 to 470 and it’s up from 510 to 515 at UCD, though it has fallen slightly at Trinity, from 510 to 505. NUI’s physics degree options are up from 435 to 450. At DCU, chemical and pharmaecutical science is up 5 to 490, analytical science is up 10 to 470 and biotechnology is up 10 to 480.

For the second year running, nanoscience is now the highest points course at Trinity outside of medicine, requiring 595 points.

Engineering and technology

Points for engineering have risen across the board. Indeed, one of the highest points rises for any course is at UCC, where general entry engineering jumps by 75 points to 490. UCD and Trinity both see 5 point rises for engineering, with courses up to 515 and 500 respectively. Only NUIG’s engineering degree records a drop, with points down slightly from 450 to 445.

Computer science is down 5 to 435 at UCC, but up from 425 to 450 at DIT and up 10 to 485 at UCD. It’s down from 440 to 425 at NUIG.

Construction and architecture

This is the second year we’ve seen big rises in points for these courses, as students heed siren calls from industry about a lack of qualified staff.

Construction management is up from 305 to 315 in DIT and from 240 to 250 in GMIT, while property economics is up by 20 to 359 in DIT. Quantity surveying in up from 330 to 350 in DIT and from 210 to 240 at GMIT.

Architecture is up 15 to 605 in DIT, up 25 to 515 in UCD, up 30 at UL to 420, and up by 10 to 450 for UCC and CIT’s jointly-run course.

Medicine and health sciences

Good news for students aspiring to medicine: points are down, albeit slightly. At Trinity, points fall from 736 to 730, while at UCD they go from 733 to 730 and at RCSI they're down 4 to 726. At NUIG, points are unchanged at 723.

General nursing degrees have seen a points increase in seven of the 14 courses on offer, while they’re down in five courses and unchanged for one.

Pharmacy is up 10 at both UCC and Trinity, with points rising to 565 and 560 respectively and it’s also up at RCSI, where points go from 545 to 550. Physiotherapy at Trinity drops from 590 to 585 and also falls 5 points at UL, where it’s down to 555 points. At UCD, however, physiotherapy is up from 545 to 550. Optometry at DIT is up 10 to 490.


Points for most of the major business or commerce courses are either up or unchanged. UCD’s commerce course stays steady at 500 points, while the popular business, economic & social studies (BESS course) at Trinity remains at 510. But points are up 10 to 400 at NUIG, up 5 in DCU, UCC, DIT and UL to 470, 460, 450 and 425 respectively. Many commerce courses with a language, including those at UCC, UL and NUIG have seen points increases as students respond to the industry demands for graduates with a European language.


Law at Trinity falls from 540 to 535, though Law and French is up 10 to 585, making it one of the highest points in the country, while Law and Business goes from 580 to 585. At UL, the Law Plus degree is up 10 to 460. Law at UCC is unchanged at 490. It’s up 5 to 525 at UCD.


Agriculture at Dundalk IT falls from 380 to 355. At IT Tralee, agriculture is down from 370 to 345, while its also down at WIT, falling from 415 to 400. The largest agriculture degree course in Ireland, offered by UCD, is down from 470 to 460.

UCD is the only college offering veterinary science, and it’s traditionally been one of the most competitive courses in Ireland. This year, points are down 5 to 570.


There has been a significant rise in points for early childhood education courses, suggesting that students and parents expect government action to improve wages and conditions in the sector. With a glut of university-educated graduates about to enter the system, this will place political pressure on the departments of education and children; it may also improve childcare options for struggling parents. Points are up from 380 to 400 in DCU, up from 360 to 375 in Mary Immaculate College of Education and up from 385 to 390 in UCC.

Primary teacher training is still one of the higher points courses, but points are down slightly this year. Primary education at Maynooth’s Froebel Institute is down from 500 to 495, while primary teaching at both St Pat’s and Mary Immaculate are down 5 points to 465.

Finally, a note on theology...

In the wake of the scandal at Maynooth’s Catholic seminary, meanwhile, interest in theology has dropped. Catholic theological studies at Trinity’s least popular and lowest points course. Despite a drop in the number of places available, points have nonetheless tumbled, from 360 to 330. Trinity’s world religions and theology course is Trinity’s second least popular course, with points steady at 360. Theology at the Pontifical University, which has been beset by scandal over the summer, drops by 65 points to 360.