What we’ve learned from the CAO round two offers

Analysis: Five take-aways from this year’s available college places

Click here to download a PDF of the CAO's 2018 round two offers: https://iti.ms/2LE2MH0

Click here to download a PDF of the CAO's 2018 round one offers: https://iti.ms/2N1opT7

As was the case last year, colleges were able to fill the majority of their programmes in round one and did not need to offer additional places in round two.

However, there are some trends that are clear from the 2,226 places that were offered on Wednesday.


Fall in applicants

Just over 1,400 fewer applicants have accepted a place in college this year at this stage than at this time last year.

Most of the decrease is accounted for through lower numbers of acceptances for mature students (over 23 years of age) and further education graduates.

This indicates that the availability of employment opportunities has decreased the attractiveness of college for this group of applicants.

Level eight rules

The shift away from level six/seven courses and towards level eight programmes continues apace.

The overall number of students who have now accepted a level eight offer makes up 83 per cent of overall acceptances.

The question arises as to how a system where the ratio of level eight to level six/seven was 60:40 less than 20 years ago is now 83:17?

In meeting the demands of the market, are colleges contributing to higher levels of dropout as some students find the level and pace of delivery of the course beyond their capacity?

Accommodation crisis

The widest range of additional places offered are in University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin and, to a lesser extent, in University College Cork. The fact that these places were still available in round two might indicate an inability on the part of some of those offered places on August 20th to accept them due to the spiralling costs associated with funding accommodation or, in many, cases finding a place to live.

Arts effects

The knock-on effect of UCD’s restructuring of its arts and social science programmes continue to reverberate in round two.

The new social policy programme and humanities programmes which offered classics, English with drama and film, etc, have dropped to “any qualified applicant”.

This means any applicant with two H5s and four ordinary level O4s, who met the minimum subject requirements, received an offer. UCD’s new arts course which offered 350 places over three years in Irish, English and continental languages dropped 11 points to 370.

DN 700 Social Science, which now offers 500 places in the non-language subjects that were previously in the old BA over four years, such as maths, economics, politics, philosophy, geography etc, remained high at 390, dropping two points since round one.

Surprise drops for popular courses

Architecture dropped 14 points to 433 in UCC, 10 points to 616 including portfolio/interview in the Dublin Institute of Technology, and by eight points to 490 in UCD. A selection of science programmes also dropped. Science Education in Dublin City University dropped 11 to 433, Science in the DIT dropped nine points to 456.

The very popular Human Nutrition and Dietetics in the DIT dropped 10 to 556. The only Veterinary Medical degree in Ireland in UCD dropped five points to 555. Human medicine in UCD is down two points to 732.

In Trinity, arts subjects saw points drops across the board. History is down 13 to 462, Maths is down 13 to 521, Geography and Geoscience is down 20 to 393, Ancient and Medieval History and Culture is down 25 to 330, while Middle Eastern and European Languages and Culture is down 15 to 485. PPE with Sociology in down nine points to 554.

To see the full list of points for CAO round two, visit: irishtimes.com/cao