Good year for Leaving students as exam numbers drop
IT'S a good year to be doing the Leaving Certificate, with numbers entered for the exam down more than 1,500 on last year.
Combined with the expansion in college places in recent years, it offers school-leavers a greater opportunity of getting into third-level.
The fall in Leaving Certificate candidates can be traced back to the particularly low birth rate of 48,255 in 1994, the year many of them were born.
This year, 53,789 candidates are entered for the Leaving Cert, down from 55,500 in 2011.
However, the dip will be short-lived, with a surge in school-leaver numbers coming down the tracks.
Against a decline in Leaving students, there is a rise in entries for the Junior Cert -- up to 59,584 from 57,732 in 2011. This is the beginning of a wave of students born in the baby boom that started in the mid-1990s.
They will feed through into third-level in a few years, leading to rise in college numbers from about 160,000 now to over 200,000 by 2020.
The expected explosion in student numbers is part of the reason that third-level colleges say they need more money.
Higher Education Authority (HEA) chief executive Tom Boland said for this year's Leaving class, there had never been as many opportunities "The higher-education system has significantly expanded the number of places available recently, first-year offers through the CAO are up by over 15pc over the last three years."
Meanwhile, the arrival of the Olympic torch in Ireland will mean an early start for many Leaving and Junior Cert candidates on the first morning of the exams next week.
Schools along the route that the torch will travel on Wednesday have been told to advise exam candidates to allow time for heavy traffic.
The flame is travelling to the offices of the Olympic Council in Howth, north Dublin in a Garda convoy before going to Croke Park. Some roads will be closed between 7am and 9am.
A number of schools are opening early to facilitate students who want to avoid any chance of being caught up in traffic congestion.