Demand for college places up as more mature students join race
DEMAND for a place in college next September is up on last year.
Figures from the CAO, the centralised agency for college entry, show that there were 71,612 applications by yesterday's closing date. The figure is up from 71,466 in 2011, but down a little on the 2010 record of 71,843 applications.
It's a whopping rise of almost 10,000 on the numbers that applied to the CAO 10 years ago, in 2002.
The continuing high demand reflects the pressure on school-leavers, and others, to acquire a third-level qualifications in order to compete for jobs in the modern workplace.
The increase in fees being charged by some UK universities this year -- up to £9,000 (€10,800) in England -- is also a factor in the numbers applying to the CAO.
More Irish students are staying at home. UCAS, the UK centralised college-entry service, has received 1,276 fewer applications from the Republic of Ireland this year, a drop of 19pc on 2011.
Mature students, those aged over 23, account for a growing share of college applicants and make up 15pc, or about one in six of first-time entrants to college.
The applications boom puts pressure on the third-level colleges to deliver a quality education to big numbers at a time when they are being financially squeezed through cuts in state grants.