Students receive CAO offers


A big change in course preference has emerged among students with the publication of today’s initial round of Central Applications Office offers for third-level courses.

CAO points required for entry to courses in science, technology and agriculture have increased dramatically, as students opt for programmes with better job prospects.

The points needed for courses in arts and business, the main pillars of the system for 20 years, are in decline.

Conversely, science and computer courses, which struggled to attract students during the Celtic Tiger years, are booming. In the most striking trend, the requirement for entry to science at UCD is up again this year to 455. Five years ago students could gain entry to this programme with fewer than 300 points.

The requirement for science courses has increased. At Trinity College Dublin it is up 15 to 475. At NUI Maynooth it is up 10 to 375 and in Galway up 20 to 370. At Dublin City University it is up 25 to 440.

The same upward pattern is evident for courses in computer science, up 35 in UCD to 410, up 30 in Trinity to 385 and up 15 in UCC.

In contrast, many high-achieving students are deserting arts amid concern about graduate unemployment. At UCD the requirement for first-year arts, the largest undergraduate course in the Republic with more than 1,200 places, is down 10 to 355.

The points required for arts courses are down 15 in NUI Galway to 340, one of the lowest requirements for a higher-level arts degree in years.

This year’s trends show how the system is struggling to keep pace with student demand. Courses in science and technology account for only about 21 per cent of all higher-degree first-preference applications. By contrast, more than 42 per cent of applications are for courses in arts/social science and business.

The points needed for many engineering courses did not increase, despite strong demand. Many require a C3 or higher in higher-level maths, but only 16 per cent of Leaving Cert students took this option.

Other main trends of first-round offers include:

* Teaching – after years during which points have moved upward, the requirement is unchanged at St Patrick’s Drumcondra. It is slightly down at Marino and at Mary Immaculate College. The points required for courses in early childhood education are also substantially down.

* Agriculture – the points requirement has increased dramatically, reflecting the 27 per cent surge in demand for courses.

* Business – while these courses were popular during the boom years, their popularity is declining. The points needed for broad-based business courses at UCD, UCC and NUI Galway are all down. Points for business, economics and social studies at TCD are unchanged.

* Medicine – the points requirement for undergraduate medicine is up again, but graduate entry requirements for medicine are down. Trinity is up 10 to 741, Royal College of Surgeons is also up 10 to 733, UCD is up 13 to 738 and NUI Galway and UCC are up nine to 729 and 734.

CAO points: The general trend



Computer science



Medicine and related



Sports and exercise


Business with languages


Broad-based Arts courses

Broad-based business courses