DEMAND for a college place remains high, although slightly behind what it was this time last year.
According to the CAO, the centralised agency for processing applications, there were 71,186 applications by February 1, the normal annual closing date.
That compares with 71,648 at the same time last year and the 2010 record of 78,199, and is the lowest since 2008, when 68,809 applied by February 1.
However, it remains well ahead of the 66,222 applications in February 2003, showing the underlying upward trend in demand for a third-level qualification.
In line with trends in other years, the figure is expected to rise in the months ahead as the CAO has a facility for late applications for certain courses.
Last year, the final CAO applications figure rose by almost 5,000, to 76,073, before offers were made.
Further details, such as the breakdown of applications by discipline, will be available in March.