Sunday 25 February 2018

Points soar for 700 college courses

Big demand for science, computing and medicine

Katherine Donnelly and John Walshe

RECORD numbers of applicants have pushed up the entry points for the majority of college courses this year.

Points have risen for a massive 700 courses, while remaining the same or dropping for the other 560.

And the figures reveal there is intense competition for courses that are tipped to secure the jobs of the future.

Some of the biggest point surges are in science and computing, reflecting higher student demand, in response to the advice that these will provide the skills needed to secure employment after college.

Medicine is also much harder to get into this year than last -- and, for the first time, a nursing course hit the 500-point mark.

The rising points for medicine will renew controversy over the Health Professionals Admission Test, which, instead of creating a more level playing pitch, appears to have created new distortions.

Points for key courses in agriculture are also up this year.

But areas such as law, construction and business experienced a downward drift in points in key courses.

Among the 851 honours degree courses, points increased for 462, while points fell in 216 and remained the same for 61.

The three Dublin universities all reported more point increases than decreases, as did NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth. However, the position was reversed in the two Munster universities, with a decline in points for many courses in both UCC and the University of Limerick.

Points for degrees at UCD almost universally increased -- reflecting the first-preference popularity of its degrees.

Analysis shows that of the 428 higher-certificate and ordinary-degree courses, 233 experienced a points increase, while points fell in 93 and remained the same for 50 courses.


While some CAO applicants will be disappointed this year with the point increases, there were never so many offers.

It has been a record year all around for college applications, offers and acceptances, so far.

There were more than 77,000 applicants and more than 56,000 of those have received at least one offer, either for an honours degree course or an ordinary-degree/higher-certificate course.

More than 7,000 applicants have accepted a place on earlier rounds, up 12pc on last year.

Last year, 45,000 college places were filled at the end of the CAO offer season, which was the biggest number ever.

This year, as well as the 45,485 students who sat the Leaving Cert and applied to the CAO, there were a further 20,000 applicants who sat the Leaving in previous years.

Many of these 20,000 applications came from people who were in the workforce and had lost their jobs or wanted to improve their career prospects.

And in engineering, some courses experienced an increase in demand and higher points.

Many students are automatically ruled out of engineering because they don't have the necessary "honour" in maths.

Only 16pc of Leaving Cert students take maths at higher level -- a figure that worries the Government. Students who are offered places in science, engineering and maths were urged last night to take them.

Irish Independent

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