CAO points fall again… but the demand for ‘boom-time’ jobs rises

Majority of students will get offer for one of top choices


Aoife Ní Raithilligh (left), from Inchicore in Dublin, gets help from Sailí Ní Dhroighneáin at
a class for aspiring teachers at Maynooth University, which is introducing a new course
for disadvantaged students to help them get into teaching. Photo: Damien Eagers
Aoife Ní Raithilligh (left), from Inchicore in Dublin, gets help from Sailí Ní Dhroighneáin at
a class for aspiring teachers at Maynooth University, which is introducing a new course
for disadvantaged students to help them get into teaching. Photo: Damien Eagers

The points race has slowed for the second year in a row, but the chase for careers in the growing economy kept a sharp edge on competition for CAO courses leading to ‘boom-time’ jobs.

Engineering, science, architecture/construction, law and primary teaching are among the areas with some notable rises in points as the CAO makes its round one offers today.

In some cases there were significant points rises. However, there were also widespread drops, and for many courses there was little change, either up or down, on last year.

This is the second year of radical reform to the Leaving Cert grading system and CAO points scale, a combined initiative designed to take some of the heat out of the points race, and the early indications are positive.

Overall, at honours degree (Level 8) level, the minimum points needed rose for more than 300 courses and dropped for more than 400, while the many other either stayed roughly the same.

Apart from medicine, for which marks from an aptitude test are added to Leaving Cert points, UCD’s economics and finance and Trinity’s dental science share the highest cut-off points, at 590.

Read more: Trinity applications hit by Brexit fears

Read more Weighing up the pros and cons of repeating

Read more: Decision time: You have until Friday to decide on your offer

More than 50,700 applicants, mainly school-leavers, are receiving offers today, overwhelmingly for one of their top-three choices.

Some 52pc of those who applied for an honours degree programme have been offered their first preference, up from 51pc last year, while 80pc were offered their first, second or third choice.

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At Levels 7 and 6, which lead to ordinary degrees and higher certificates, the success rate was higher again, with 88pc receiving their first choice and 98pc getting one of their top three.

The number of offers is down on last year, reflecting a drop in CAO applications, including from Northern Ireland and Britain.

This is being linked to Brexit and almost certainly contributed to points falls for some courses.

The fall in CAO applications is partly due to a decline in the numbers taking the Leaving Certificate in 2018, but that is only temporary and an increase already evident in the Junior Cert will start showing up from next year.

As is usually the way, disciplines showing some strong points trends mirror areas where there was a clear increase in demand for courses.

Against a 3pc decline in overall applications for honours degree programmes, areas that bucked that trend included biological and related sciences (up 14pc), engineering (up 3pc) architecture and construction (plus 3pc), law (up 3pc) and teaching (plus 7-8pc).

In some examples of how the points followed those trends, UCD’s engineering programme rose 11 to 510, from round one last year, while biomedical science at NUI Galway jumped 10 to 531.

While there was a general fall-off in demand for information and communications technology (ICT) programmes, and a consequent decline in points for many courses, data science at DCU soared 22 points to 476.

The well-publicised teacher shortage trigged a big increase in application for teacher training.

There were ups and down here, with extra places for second-level programmes soaking up some of the extra demand.

DCU president Professor Brian MacCraith noted high points for degrees with an international dimension such as their global business suite, and said it “provides clear evidence that students are thinking globally”.

While Brexit may have had an impact on applications, and points, for some of its courses, TCD’s vice-provost Prof Chris Morash noted a “marked increase” in demand for its European studies programme.

Irish Independent

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