CAO profits rise as more apply for third level
Revenues at the cash-rich Central Applications Office (CAO) jumped more than €100,000 last year on the back of increased applications.
New accounts lodged to the Companies Office by the CAO show that revenues jumped from €2.64m to €2.78m.
According to the directors' report: "In 2014, application fee income increased by €113,545 due to an increase in applicant numbers."
However, a jump in staff costs at the Galway-based CAO resulted in pre-tax profits dropping by more than €100,000, from €453,917 to €343,505.
The healthy profits of the last six years resulted in the CAO having €5.39m in cash at the end of last year.
Established in 1977 by the universities and the Higher Education Authority, the CAO is a private company.
Last year, it handled 73,063 applications for more than 40 higher education institutions in Ireland - a jump of 1,913 on 2013.
The figures show that while the CAO's income increased last year, its expenditure increased at a faster rate - by 10pc - from €2.4m to €2.65m.
As a result, the agency's operating profit last year dropped by just under €100,000, from €453,917 to €343,505.
The figures show that the CAO generated €100,485 from interest receivable on its bank deposits, while it generated an additional €115,000 from "other finance income".
Highlighting the uncertainties facing the CAO, its directors said: "The possible re-introduction of third-level fees may reduce applicant numbers. Also, the increase in emigration may reduce the level of non-standard applicants applying for third-level education."
On the agency's future developments, the directors stated: "New third-level institutions continue to join the CAO system. The company is extending the information collected regarding the socio-economic backgrounds of applications for the third-level institutions."
The accounts also show that salaries at the Galway-based CAO increased from €1.1m to €1.24m as the office's staff levels remained static at 32, with 15 of the 32 being permanent employees and the remainder seasonal or temporary.
The CAO recorded an actuarial loss of €2.4m on its pension scheme last year.
A breakdown of the CAO's revenues show that last year, its application fee income increased from €2.32m to €2.43m.
The firm's accumulated profits at the end of December last stood at €5.25m.