CAO application statistics
In early March, CAO (the Central Applications Office) publishes its statistics on the current year's college applications up to February 1, with comparisons to the previous year's figures. As most people already know, record numbers have applied to CAO this year, with 71,843 applicants by February 1 as compared to 67,633 at the same time last year, an increase of 6.22pc.
CAO statistics published yesterday show that applications are up in almost every course grouping, with just a few exceptions. The Level 8 course groups that are showing some drops in application numbers are Education, including primary teaching, where first preferences are down 4.18pc, and total mentions are down by 5.1pc. In Law first preferences are down 7.06pc, with total mentions down 6.43pc. In Architecture, first preferences were down 10.21pc, although total mentions are up by 13.74pc.
There was a slight drop in first preferences for Agriculture/Horticulture. with 22 fewer first preferences than last year, although here also there was a slight increase of 155 in total mentions by applicants.
Pharmacy, which like Architecture only offers a small number of places in total, shows a significant drop in first preferences from 380 to 280. The course grouping, the Built Environment shows a drop of first preference applications from 324 to 257, or 20.68pc.
The course group Arts/Social Science shows an increase of 10pc, Medicine is up 11.89pc, and Dentistry is up by 14.14pc. Physiotherapy, where first preferences had dropped last year from 596 to 577 has risen again this year to 736 first preferences.
The grouping, Other Healthcare, shows an increase of 334 first preferences, from 1,300 in 2009 to 1,634.
At Level 7/6, there are drops in applications to Arts/Social Science courses, to Architectural courses down 45.37pc, with Art down by 2.19pc. First preference applications to Other Healthcare courses at this level have increased, from 452 to 1,331.
What is the difference between "first preference applications" and "total mentions"?
Each applicant may apply to up to ten course choices in order of preference on each of two lists (Level 8, and Level 7/6), so they have one first preference choice on each list. These account for the "first preference" figures. All preferences are counted under the "total mentions" figure.
Applicants naturally normally respond to what they hear about areas of job shortages or job opportunities. But it is important to emphasise that students should still base their course choices on a genuine liking for the course in itself.
Dropping out of a course is always a great disappointment for a student and for the college, but in these times it is a particularly wasteful prospect. So research the course content and make as sure as you can that you will enjoy it.
Open days: Today, Bray Institute of Further Education, Novara Avenue, Bray, Co. Wicklow (1.30pm-4.00pm); the College of Progressive Education, Blackrock, Co Dublin which specialises in Care courses, holds an open day in the Tara Towers Hotel, Merrion rd, Dublin 4 (2pm -7pm); open day Stillorgan College of Further Education, Stillorgan Co. Dublin (10am- 3pm); Monaghan Institute of Further Education and Training, Monaghan, Thursday March 11 (5pm-8pm) and Friday March 12th, (10am-2.30pm).