Sunday 4 December 2016

Didn't get your first choice? The UK provides course options too

Published 20/08/2010 | 05:00

This weekend may drag a little for CAO applicants, as they wait to see what offers they will get on Monday morning.

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Many of them will have a fairly good idea of how their application stands. They will have worked out their points on the basis of their results. They will have checked with last year's cut-off points for their desired course.

Last year's points can only be taken as a guide and there can be ups and downs each year, depending on the number of places on the course, the number of applicants to each individual course and the results those applicants have achieved.

Some applicants may have points well in excess of last year's and may be reasonably confident.

Others may be way short, and have a pretty good idea that they will not be receiving a higher preference offer.

Applicants whose points are very close to last year's cut-off for the course of their choice are most likely to be on tenterhooks, waiting to see will they make the cut, to borrow a golfing term.

Meanwhile, the gender breakdown of 2010 Leaving Certificate results reveals that girls have on the whole done better than boys again this year in most subjects.

A higher percentage of girls than boys got more A grades in most subjects at higher level, although more boys take higher level Maths and Applied Maths than girls do, and a higher percentage of them get A grades in those subjects.

Q My son didn't get the place he wanted through CAO. I believe there may be a chance of getting a place on a course in Britain?

A "May" is probably the operative word. Every year, several thousand Irish applicants apply for places in British universities, either at the start of the application process back in January, or at this time in August, through the process known as clearing, and there, as here, the number of university applications was up on last year, with over 660,000 applicants seeking places.

Last year, a total of 482,000 places were awarded.

GCE A Level results came out yesterday, showing improved grades yet again.

The British UCAS application system is different to our CAO process, because UCAS makes conditional offers in advance of the exam results, and if applicants meet the conditions of those offers by reaching the grades specified, the place is theirs.

Obviously if results are better overall, more people will meet the conditions of their offer. If on the other hand, applicants fail to meet the conditions of their offer, they lose the place, which then goes back into the clearing process. All UCAS applicants who have not been successful in getting a place are entered for clearing.

Anybody may apply for a place in clearing, even people who have not applied to UCAS so far.

Every year, it attracts some applications from Ireland. Applicants should not expect to find vacancies on highly competitive courses in clearing, any more than you would find such places in CAO's vacant places lists.

This year, applicants are warned that completion for places in clearing will be very intense, as the number of university places is being capped.

Last year about 47,000 places were awarded through clearing; this year it is expected that there may only be about 17,000. But it could still be worth a try.

Q I did not see the breakdown of the LCVP link modules results in this year's Leaving Certificate results breakdown. I was awarded a merit, but would like to know how this compares with others.

A It's good. This year 15,596 candidates took the LCVP Link modules. Of these, 1,782 (or 11.42pc) were awarded a distinction (worth 70 points), 7,423 (or 47.59pc) got a merit (50 points), and 4,927 (31.59pc) got a pass (30 points).

Finally, 1,464 (or 9.3pc) were unsuccessful.

Irish Independent

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