Wednesday 24 January 2018

CAO is a very mixed bag for 2010

Mary O'Donnell

The points results this year are, to mix a few metaphors, a mixed bag, or like the Curate’s egg, good in parts, and depending on how you look at it, the glass is either half full or half empty.

So who is happy when points rise or fall? One cannot help but have a sneaking suspicion that a rise in points for their courses flatters the egos of individual colleges, if colleges can be thought to have egos.

As far as applicants are concerned, some of their egos will also be flattered if they meet the exorbitant points required for some of the most competitive courses.

Given the record number of applicants to CAO this year, people were fearful that points would rise across the board.

They have not done so, which will be a relief to many applicants. CAO Level 8 application figures showed increases in applications to Arts, Science, Engineering, Business, Medicine, Nursing, other healthcare, but points did not uniformly rise in all of these areas.

Applications to courses in Law and Education dropped, but points did not uniformly drop in those areas. In 21 Level 8 Law courses, for example, ten showed points drops, eight showed rises and three remained the same.

How does this arise? It can boil down to the scores of individual applicants to individual courses, and the number of places on that course.

But there will be disappointment, as predicted, for other applicants, particularly in areas like medicine, and other healthcare courses including nursing.

Given the rise in numbers of applicants to medicine, it is no surprise that points are up in each of the five undergraduate medicine courses this year, with points ranging from #731 in Trinity (where there are about 109 places), to #725 in UCD (with 122 places)to #720 in NUI Galway.

Points for dentistry are up ten points to 580* in Trinity and down five in UCC to 570*. Pharmacy was down five points in two HEIs, Trinity and UCC, and up five points in RCSI.

Physiotherapy rose in Trinity (from 520* to 530*), in UCD (from 525 to 535*), and RCSI (from 530* to 535*), but dropped five points in the University of Limerick, down from 565 last year to 560 this year – still the most competitive of the four Physiotherapy courses, and the most competitive of all courses in UL.

Competition for Science courses rose last year, and rose again this year.

On CAO points charts, an asterisk or star sign after a cutoff point can mean heartbreak to some applicants on that point, because this is where random selection applies. The star means that the cut-off was made in the middle of a list of applicants who tied on the same points.

Of all the ways of losing a place, random selection must be the most painful.

Although points have risen in many courses this year, on balance, the picture shows that apart from Medicine and other very competitive healthcare courses, there are some Level 8 courses in almost every category where points are lower this year than last.

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