Record offers but colleges still have vacancies
THERE are still vacancies in a raft of prestigious college courses, despite a record number of CAO offers.
Many places are still available at third level, particularly on honours engineering degree programmes, for which certain requirements in higher level maths in the Leaving Certificate have to be met.
The number who achieved high grades in this subject was relatively low after another disappointing national performance in this year's maths exams.
The full list of courses with vacancies will be posted by the CAO on its website at noon today.
Some of the colleges with vacant places will also be holding their own "second chance" maths exams this week. Passing these exams will allow students to qualify for entry to third level engineering courses, even if they did not achieve the necessary grade in their Leaving Cert maths. There was a rush by students yesterday to accept their college places online.
Almost 21,000 of the 49,408 CAO applicants who received an offer in yesterday's Round One had accepted by 5.15pm.
Applicants have until Monday, August 29, at 5.15pm to accept their offer, which may be done either by post or online, but not both.
Despite the record number of offers, inevitably some students were disappointed yesterday or still unsure of the next step.
They were among those who rang the National Parents Council post primary (NPCpp) helpline, where members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors dealt with over 500 calls.
The helpline, sponsored by eircom and the Irish Independent, with the support of the Department of Education and Skills, is also open today, from 8am to 7pm.
Department secretary general Brigid McManus, spent two and a half hours at the helpline yesterday, getting a first-hand account of the complex issues that students and their parents struggle with at this time of the year.
Helpline spokeswoman Rose Tully said the calls covered a range of issues including the HPAT aptitude test for medicine, which has driven points up for the third year in a row.
Other topics that came up included rechecks on Leaving Cert exam papers, deferring college offers, repeating, and what to expect in the CAO round Two on September 1.
National Parents Council post primary (NPCpp) is also appealing to all third level institutions to offer students the facility to pay their charges in instalments.
Spokesperson Jackie O'Callaghan said, "Given the fact that grants have been cut as well as the high rate of unemployment, the delay in processing grants and the lack of part-time jobs for students, it would hugely alleviate the pressure on families in these tough times."
The surge in interest and offers in computing and other technology courses this year has been welcomed by the Irish Computer Society (ICS).
ICS chief executive officer Jim Friars said anyone offered a place in computing should "grasp this opportunity" .
He said information technology had proven to be one of the most resilient in terms of employment in Ireland, having increased its numbers in the past three years by more than 5,000.