Leaving Cert points for some high-demand courses set to rise this year

Impact of deferred applications means places in top-points courses likely to be reduced

Checking the CAO website for offers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Checking the CAO website for offers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


The points needed in this year’s Leaving Certificate for some high-demand third-level courses, such as medicine and pharmacy, are set to rise, it has emerged.

Seven-hundred 2020 Leaving Cert students, who sat written exams last November, were awarded places on Wednesday in higher-points courses than they were awarded by the Central Applications Office (CAO) last year.

The 2020 students had been granted, and most had taken up, places in colleges and universities offered by the CAO on the back of the results of last year’s standardised assessed grades.

However, they can now transfer to a higher-points choice in September on foot of having got better results in the later written exams, which were taken by more than 2,000 students in search of higher grades.

So far, it is known that students applying to the University of Limerick are unaffected because it did not have any “applicants entitled to higher offers”, the university said.

University College Cork also believed it would not have problems, saying the impact of deferred applications, “allowing for the extra consideration” of the November exams, “is expected to be broadly in line with previous years”.

The consequences of the CAO’s Round A award, however, are that the number of places in top points courses available to 2021 students in some universities will be cut.

The reduction could be as much as 15 per cent in some, while the number of points needed to qualify will rise, unless extra places are found by Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris.

However, the ability now of the universities and the Minister to create extra places to ensure that 2021’s exam students do not suffer is limited.

Limited by placements

Places in medical and paramedical programmes are restricted and determined by the availability of placements in hospital and other medical facilities, which can be problematic.

Besides fewer places, points for medicine and other course could rise substantially when most applications are offered in September, since the number applying for honours degrees is up 8.5 per cent, from 71,314 to 77,344.

In all, 6,698 people – including some Leaving Certificate students from last year, mature applicants, mature nursing/midwifery applicants, and deferred applicants, received Round A offers on Wednesday.

Candidates must accept Round A offers by 3pm next Tuesday, or the offer will be cancelled.

CAO communications officer Eileen Keleghan urged people to check if they have been given an offer. “We urge all mature, deferred and other applicants who may be expecting an offer at this stage to log in to their CAO accounts to check if they have received a Round A offer.

“Successful applicants will also receive an email to the email account they have registered on the CAO system.

A further offer round (Round Zero) will take place on August 5th for additional mature applicants, deferred and Access applicants, graduate entry medicine applicants, and applicants presenting QQI FET/Fetac qualifications for entry to courses with a quota for QQI FET/Fetac applicants.

For all other applicants, CAO offers will be issued on September 7th. Successful applicants will also receive offer notification by email and text message. No offers will be made by post.