How to accept your second-round offer
College admissions offices all over the country are busy today, as admissions officers reconcile their CAO round-one acceptances with the number of places on each course.
Tomorrow they will be in a position to advise CAO what second-round offers they should make, if any, and students should receive these offers on Thursday.
Q "Someone said to me that I should phone the college to tell them that I am really interested in a second-round offer in my highest preference course, which I lost in random selection in round one. Is this so?"
A There is no need to phone. The applicant will be offered her course if there are unfilled places and if she is entitled to one through her ranking on the waiting list.
That is the guarantee of the CAO application process. No one who is below her on the list will be offered that place ahead of her, even if she has accepted a lower-preference course offer in round one.
It must be emphasised, however, that there may be no places to offer in the second round in many courses.
Q "How many offers are likely to be made in the second round?"
A That depends entirely on how many applicants accepted their places in round one, when the colleges offered all the places there were to fill. Last year, more than 2,000 people received offers in round two.
Not all of these were receiving offers for the first time. Some of these were offers of higher-preference courses made to people who had already accepted a lower-preference place in round one.
Q "Is it fair that some people receive offers in both rounds, while others still have no offer?"
A The principle on which the CAO operates is that applicants are offered the highest preference offer that their results entitle them to from either list, and it is a great comfort for all applicants. But nobody may hold on to two offers.
Anyone who accepts a higher-preference offer will automatically drop the offer they have already accepted in an earlier round, and it will be offered to the next in line.
After round two, any unfilled places will be offered to the next in line on the waiting lists as they become available. Despite the large number of courses with no qualified applicants on the waiting list, most courses have waiting lists of applicants still.
There are more than 850 course codes on the Level 8 list, of which 69 appeared on the vacant places list as of yesterday, while 94 of 420 courses on the Level 7/Level 6 list showed vacancies. So it appears more than 1100 courses still have applicants on their waiting lists.
Meanwhile, there are always questions about places in medicine.
Q "I have heard that it is easier for foreign applicants to get on to highly competitive courses like medicine than it is for Irish applicants. Is this true?"
A The numbers of places for Irish and other EU applicants on a highly competitive and highly expensive course like medicine are capped by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), and consequently the points are very high.
However, the medical schools usually have more capacity than the capped numbers take up. So the additional places are open for application to applicants from non-EU countries, who are charged high fees.
Basically such students are not a cost to the Irish Exchequer and are indeed a source of revenue to the college in question.
The non-EU fees for medicine in UCD and in Trinity in 2010-2011, for example, are €31,000 a year.
The standard of the international applicants is very high, but they do not compete for places with the Irish and other EU applicants.