Students opt for sciences in boost for State's plans
GROWING numbers of school-leavers are opting for a career in science, as law and construction-related degree courses are suffering a continuing slide in interest.
The trend will come as a relief to the Government and multinational companies, who have been pushing for more highly skilled graduates to build the smart economy.
Science strengthened its position to the third most popular college discipline -- up from fifth place two years ago -- after an above-average 8.6pc jump in applications this year.
Overall demand for a third-level place next autumn is up 6.2pc, to a record 71,843 applicants, according to latest figures from the CAO, the centralised third-level applications agency. This means an average of two students are chasing every college place.
Level 8 (honours degree) courses saw a 5.6pc rise in applications while demand for the Level 7/6 (ordinary degree/ higher certificate) programmes rose 6.3pc.
Arts and social science remain by far the most popular first-preference choices, with demand up 10pc at Level 8.
The trend away from property-related courses continues, with applications for Level 8 architecture courses down 10.2pc, while other construction-related courses suffered a 20.6pc decline. Law, a victim of loss of conveyancing work in legal firms, is also down.
A drop in demand for primary teaching may be related to publicity about teaching post cuts, while agriculture/horticulture courses recorded a 4.7pc drop after a 10pc rise in 2009.
Engineering and technology courses, also regarded as a vital foundation for the skills needed in the economy, have shown an above-average rise in demand of 6.5pc.
The economic downturn is keeping demand for administration and business courses in the doldrums, with a 3.6pc rise in applications compared with the 6.2pc average.
Medicine attracted an 11.9pc increase in first-preference applications, up 399 to 3,755, against a 26.3pc drop to 280 for pharmacy. Physiotherapy recovered from a slump last year with a 27.6pc rise, while dentistry is up 14.1pc, and other healthcare, such as radiography and occupational therapy is up 25.7pc.
University College Dublin remains the most popular choice with 7,878 first preference applications, up 4.9pc, shading Trinity College Dublin's 7,787, up 6pc.
Demand for NUI Maynooth courses is up by the most this year, at 11.1pc, followed by Dublin City University at 10.1pc, and NUI Galway at 7.1pc. Dublin Institute of Technology also experienced a rise of over 7pc.
But University College Cork and the University of Limerick saw a below-average increase in applications -- at 3.4pc and 3.3pc respectively.