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CAO: Demand for medicine and health courses down as interest grows in business and law


There is an 11pc boost in applications for post-primary teaching. Stock image

There is an 11pc boost in applications for post-primary teaching. Stock image

There is an 11pc boost in applications for post-primary teaching. Stock image

The crush for many high-points healthcare courses is easing, as CAO applications settle back to more normal patterns after the pandemic.

Covid-era Leaving Cert grade inflation fuelled a surge in interest in disciplines such as medicine and dentistry, pushing points even higher and leaving many disappointed.

CAO data shows a reversal of that trend, with applications for medicine, for instance, down overall by 11pc on last year.

Demand for nursing is down again, by 10pc, while veterinary has dropped 20pc.

Meanwhile, an increasing appetite for studying areas such as business, law, architecture, engineering, science, information and communications technology (ICT) and agriculture is evident.

There is also an 11pc boost in applications for post-primary teaching, a strong response by school-leavers to staffing shortages in their classrooms.

While the CAO figures provide an overview of a swing up or down in demand for a particular discipline, individual courses may buck that trend.

The CAO data provides a breakdown by discipline of the 78,025 applications submitted by February 1, about the same as spring 2022. Late applications are likely to boost that figure.

A notable feature is the number of applicants who have not entered their course choices, 7,440, almost 10pc, a significant increase from 6,787 last year.

This, combined with the facility that allows applicants to vary their course choices before July 1, means the landscape could change before offers are made.

This year also sees a 14pc rise in applications – to 9,913 – from students who can show that a disability or illness has impacted their education, and who may gain entry on reduced points.

Applications from Northern Ireland have slipped by 13pc and Britain by 2pc. EU countries are up by 3pc and non-EU countries are up by17pc.

There is anecdotal evidence that accommodation difficulties in Dublin may be having some impact on applications.

Trinity College Dublin has the biggest single share of first preferences for Level 8 courses, at 16pc, although down on 2022, including a 3pc decrease from the Republic.

Against national trends, first preferences for some nursing programmes at Trinity are up while it has seen a drop in first preferences for most business courses.

First preferences for medicine and dental science at Trinity have fallen but are up for other health science courses.

Applications for a place at UCD, which has a 14pc share of first preferences at Level 8, are about the same as last year.

UCD acting deputy president and registrar Professor Barbara Dooley said overall figures were returning to more normal levels after the upheaval of Covid.

“However, there is no doubt that after the surge over the past two years, demand for the human health sector has fallen and every one of our healthcare degrees are down on 2022 first preferences across medicine, radiography, physiotherapy and nursing,” she said.

Maynooth University, which is in the centre of an area of population growth, is celebrating a 2pc rise in applications.

Several of its programmes have seen a substantial increase in first preferences, including business and languages, law, social science, and science.

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