Leaving Certificate: What are the trends this year?
The cut-off points for each CAO course will only be decided over the next few days, as admissions officers from the various colleges go through this year's Leaving Cert results.
Points are based on the number of places on a course, the demand for them and how well applicants have performed in the Leaving Cert in a particular year. If more applicants with high points have a course as a top choice, that drives points up.
So, until the results are crunched, it is impossible to predict what the points will be. While points tend to go up if there has been a sharp rise in demand for a particular discipline in a year, similarly, a fall-off in applications may lead to a drop in points.
There was clear evidence of such swings in the years immediately following the economic crash, when, for instance, the building industry collapsed and so too did demand for courses linked to construction and property.
In the same era, the impact of State spending cuts on the employment and terms and conditions of public servants, such as teachers, influenced choice and teaching was one field where demand slipped, with a consequent easing of points.
Many students switched their affections to courses that would lead to the safer option of the jobs-rich technology sector, with clear lifts in points. CAO application figures for 2015 give some clues as to where the pressure is on, or off.
Technology remains on the up, and, another feature of the 2015 figures is the surge for courses leading to jobs in construction and property, with architecture enjoying a 15pc rise in applications, and other building-related courses up 14pc. Law is another discipline that has bounced back, with an 11pc rise in first preferences when compared with last year.
Dentistry and medicine have both seen a rise in applications, but pharmacy and physiotherapy are down. Points for agriculture shot up in recent years but there has been a downturn in interest this year.