Friday 23 March 2018

There may still be hope for you if that dream course has vacancies

Some applicants may have not yet accepted their CAO offer, but they still have the weekend to finally decide, before the round one acceptance deadline of 5.15pm on Monday next, August 30.

Given the trouble that CAO has been having with its website this year, however, no one should leave it till the last moment to accept online.

When applicants are uncertain about their offer, they wonder can they change courses when they get into college.

"I got my number three choice from CAO," came one enquiry. "What are my chances of changing to my number four choice, or indeed another course altogether, when I register in the college?"

The chances are slim indeed. The number of places on most courses is limited, and certainly all the more competitive courses will be full. If another person were to be squeezed on to a course, they must come from the list of qualified applicants on the waiting list. There is never any chance of moving into any course for which you did not meet the entry requirements or the cut-off points.

If there are available/ vacant places on any course (which means that there are no qualified applicants on a waiting list for the course) then anyone may apply.

The list of available places can change daily at the present time, as admissions officers get a sense of what courses may not fill, or if they are getting enough new applications.

About 150/160 courses show vacancies, or about one in eight of all 1,279 courses on CAO's lists. Many of the Level 8 honours degree courses are in fee-paying colleges, including the American College, Dublin 2, IBAT College Swords, Co Dublin, the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Institute, Limerick, the Dublin Business School, Griffith College, and Independent Colleges, all in Dublin.

There are some Level 8 Engineering courses showing vacancies (four in NUI Maynooth and three in Cork IT), and some other vacancies in other publicly funded colleges including a good number of vacancies in Tipperary Institute.

At Levels 7 and 6, there are places in several institutes of technology as well as the private colleges.

Q What happens if colleges get more applications for vacant places than there are places to fill?

A Then all new applicants will be ranked in order of merit, and places will be allocated in order of their points. It sometimes happens that although enough points were obtained for a course at the end of round one, a new competition arises, and points come into play.

CAO uses the symbol 'v' after the cut-off points to indicate that not all applicants were offered a place in the new competition for available places.

Talking of fee-paying colleges, more than one parent got a shock when a student son or daughter's highest preference offer in round one came from a fee-paying college.

Q "I don't know what to do," said one mother whose son was made such an offer.

"I had no idea that the college he was applying for charged fees, and I wouldn't mind only he had enough points for all sorts of courses in the institute of technology nearest us, which is excellent.

"Where I am going to get the money to pay the fees and to keep him in accommodation away from home?"

A Again, the only option here is to see if there are any available/vacant places on courses he would consider in the non fee-paying sector.

The fee-paying colleges offer excellent degrees and other courses, but must charge fees as they are not covered by the free fees scheme.

When students are applying to CAO, they should bear their family circumstances in mind if they include courses in fee-paying colleges or courses that involve living away from home. In fairness, it is something they should discuss with their parents, who usually end up footing the bill.

Irish Independent

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