Saturday 7 December 2019

Business courses in demand as half change CAO picks

Business courses were popular with people who changed their CAO choices
Business courses were popular with people who changed their CAO choices

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

MORE than half of CAO applicants have changed their mind about their choice of college courses.

This year, the main trends in college applications include a continuing rise in demand for business, computing and engineering courses.

According to the latest figures from the CAO, the centralised agency for college applications, 41,897 applicants submitted a Change of Mind before the July 1 deadline.

The Change of Mind facility allows applicants to add, remove or change the order of their chosen courses.

Most of the changes were on Level 8, honours degree course lists, with 38,364 submitted. This is almost double the 22,007 for Level 7/6 ordinary degree/higher certificate programmes.

This year, overall demand for college entry is at record levels, with 77,725 CAO applications, an increase of over 1,600 on 2013.

The increase in the numbers taking the Leaving Certificate – both because of an expanding student population and more of whom are also staying on to finish school – is driving growth in the CAO.

The ongoing swing to technology reflects jobs growth in that sector, while others, such as construction and law, which suffered in the economic crash, have seen a dip in popularity.

Inevitably, after the results of the HPAT aptitude test for medicine are released at the end of June, applications for a place in one of the five medical schools falls off.

Entry to medicine is based on a combination of HPAT scores and CAO points and the HPAT results give students a good idea of their chances.

Business bounced back last year and has continued to find favour with school-leavers, some perhaps eager to acquire skills that would equip them to join the growing band of young entrepreneurs.

While science has enjoyed a lift in demand in recent years, that has levelled off while applications for teaching also remain flat.

There has been continuing drop in applications from mature students – those aged over 23 – this year, to just above 11,000, from almost 15,000 in 2010.

Back-to-college programmes such as Springboard have soaked up much of that demand.

Mature students, and applicants who deferred a previous CAO offer received their college offers on Friday, in what is known as Round A.

The CAO made offers to 7,240 applicants in Round A, including 6,232 mature students.

The main body of offers is made in Round One, which will be on Monday August 18.

Irish Independent

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