Trinity gets ‘Normal People bounce’ with record application numbers

University featured prominently in hit TV series based on book by Sally Rooney

Trinity College Dublin appears to have benefitted from a "Normal People bounce" after it recorded its highest number of college applicants this year.

Students have made more than 40,000 applications to study courses at Trinity through the Central Applications Office (CAO) system, an 11 per cent increase on last year.

It included a small increase in UK applications, halting a slide over recent years which had been attributed to Brexit.

The university featured prominently in the TV series, which aired in May and June during the CAO’s “change of mind” window.


Senior figures in the university had been anticipating an increase in applications when they saw record-breaking viewing figures for the series.

A spokesman it was delighted by the “positive interest show by students in studying at Trinity” this year.

“We had expected interest in Trinity programmes to be high – as it always is – and are greatly looking forward to welcoming a new cohort of undergraduates in September,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said that, while it was difficult to say definitively whether the increase was linked to Normal People, the series significantly boosted interest in the college.

“It’s hard to quantify what exactly influenced students’ decisions, but it seems likely that all the exposure may well have played a role.”

Social distancing

Unlike the steamy TV series, social distancing is set to become a feature of college life for students at Trinity this year.

The university says only limited numbers will be permitted on campus at any one time and “blended learning” is planned in the coming academic year.

While larger lectures will take place online, it says smaller lectures, seminars and tutorials will take place on campus.

Students will most likely have access to the campus on certain days of the week in turns.

It says it is exploring ways of allowing Freshers’ Week, along with clubs and societies, to function in line with social distancing requirements.

Latest CAO figures show a total of 77,800 students have applied for higher education courses this year, a similar number to last year.

Over half of the students who applied through the CAO adjusted their course choices in May and June.

There was also good news for UCD and Maynooth University, which recorded significant increases in applications numbers this year.

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