Saturday 24 March 2018

Record 50,000 students get offered college places

Katherine Donnelly

MORE THAN 20,000 students have already accepted a CAO offer today, it has been revealed.

“Most will be very pleased with the offer received, half of those getting a level 8 offer will get a first preference offer", a CAO spokesperson told Morning Ireland

“If you haven’t got what you want today there will definitely be more opportunities for you.

“Most of the offer and acceptances will be dealt within around three weeks time."

The number of students receiving a college offer today has risen above 50,000 for the first time.

The CAO said that approximately 20,000 students had accepted offers by 2pm.

Third-level colleges have issued the record level of offers in response to growing demand for a third-level qualification.

READ: CAO 2014 points in full 

Half of applicants to honours degree courses got their top choice, while one in three have received their first, second or third preference.

However, in the annual swings and roundabouts of CAO Round One, points on some courses have soared, but there have also been some dramatic falls.

The effect of the 25 bonus points for a minimum grade D on the higher level maths paper is evident this year in the significant increase in points for many business courses.

This is the third year of the bonus, and up to now the impact was concentrated in areas such as computing, engineering and science, which have a close association with maths.

Points for some computing courses rose even with colleges opening more places on technology courses in response to the needs of employers.

Increased activity in the property and construction sectors saw a surge in demand for courses in these areas, with a knock-on increase in points

The Points Race
The Points Race

But points for highly-coveted places in medical school have tumbled across the board for the first time ever.

Points are down by between 14 and 18 in the five undergraduate medical schools, attributed to changes introduced this year in the way marks are allocated in the HPAT aptitude test.

In a new development, Trinity College, Dublin, offered 25 places to students which took factors other than points into
account. A 'personal statement' and the student's relative position in his or her own school were also considered.Among the students receiving an offer today are over 37,000 of the 57,000 students who sat the Leaving Cert this year.

While 50,848 individuals have received an offer, some get more than one - one for a Level 8 honours degree and a Level 7/6 ordinary degree/higher certificate.

In total, colleges have issued 39,398 Level 8 offers and 34,615 level 7/6 offers. At level 7/6, four in five students received their first preferences, and over nine in 10 received one of their top three.

The bounce in business has been attributed to the growing number of Leaving Certificate candidates taking "honours" maths and gaining the 25 bonus points. There were some dramatic points increases in this area. The renaissance in agriculture and the agri-food industry has seen a huge growth in demand for college-related courses in recent years and a subsequent climb in points.

The single largest jump in points at UCD was its Horticulture and Agri-Environment courses, which climbed by 70 points from 325 to 395.

The demand from industry for more computing graduates continues to fuel interest in this area, pushing points up. Many courses in engineering and science also rose for the same reason.

This year has seen some of the first signs of confidence in construction, which has not gone unnoticed by the class of 2014. First-preference applications to honours degree courses in what is known as "built environment" more than doubled this year, and points also climbed.

Reasonably stable demand for courses in traditional public sector jobs such as teaching meant there were no points shocks there.

Arts and social science remain the most popular disciplines, but with applications down in recent years, points have remained fairly static.

Although medicine is down, most courses related to health have increased this year and some of these increases have been quite significant. Physiotherapy has jumped in both UCD and University of Limerick, with more modest gains for other courses.

This year's CAO offers are being made as work progresses on ways to reform the points system and simplify entry routes to college.

UCD deputy president Professor Mark Rogers said the continuing and growing pressure to attain ever-higher CAO points further drove students to make strategic choices in their subjects in school, rather than focusing on subjects that interest and inspire them to study and learn.

He said issues to be considered included encouraging students to take higher level syllabi and in that way make them better prepared for university learning.


Prof Rogers said a process currently under way within the Irish Universities Association, headed by NUI Maynooth president Professor Philip Nolan, was attempting to come up with fair and equitable options for reform of the entry process that would try and reduce the negative consequences of our current system at second level.

In order to "chase college points" some students select their Leaving Cert subjects on the basis of what points they believe they can attain, rather than on where their interests lie or on what they might learn. The points rather than the learning become the "end".

"Simplifying the subject requirements for students entering university would provide greater opportunities for our 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds to take on the subjects in schools that truly interest them, without feeling that they have closed off their options for university," he said.

Irish Independent

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