Katherine Donnelly: It's hard to ignore impact of cuts in guidance
Why did more than 6,000 CAO applicants not fill out their course choices? And why has the figure risen so much over the past decade, particularly in the last few years? There may be many reasons, as varied as they are numerous, but it is hard to ignore the cuts in guidance counselling in schools, introduced in 2012, which has had a hugely detrimental effect on the time available to deal with individual students.
School-leavers interested in going to college can select from about 1,400 courses on the CAO. It is a bewildering choice and one which can only serve to confuse those who haven't a clear idea of what they want to do, and even if they do know, similar sounding courses can differ quite considerably.
That is where the services of a guidance counsellor come in, helping students to identify strengths and weaknesses, and sift through the minutiae of courses to find those that best match an applicant's aptitudes.