Students Set for a Shock as CAO Points Shoot Up
Byline: Elaine Loughlin
LEAVING Cert students are facing huge disappointment this morning after CAO requirements for many thirdlevel courses soared - some by as many as 85 points.
Increased demand for places and the granting of 25 bonus points for students who passed higher level maths have pushed subjects out of the reach of many college hopefuls when they might have comfortably landed the place in previous years.
Interest in science and IT in particular has seen these courses take a large points leap.
Applicants are also facing increased competition from UK students, who are choosing to study in Irish universities to avoid being faced with crippling fees of up [pounds sterling]9,000 ([euro]11,500) per year at home.
The numbers applying from Britain and Northern Ireland in the past two years have shot up by almost 24 per cent.
Science and technology courses have seen some of the biggest points rises this year, with many students hoping to take advantage of the booming smart economy.
Computer-aided engineering and design in the University of Limerick has rocketed from 410 points last year to 495 in the first round published today.
Computer science in UCD has risen to 470 from 410, while biological and biomedical sciences at NUI Maynooth has increased by has increased to 460 from 435.
First preferences for honours degrees in science rose 17.4 per cent this year, meaning not all students will receive their preferred course option today. However, employers' group IBEC has welcomed the increased demand for science and technology courses, saying the sector will help rebuild our economy.
IBEC's Tony Donohoe said: 'We are beginning to attract more high calibre students into subjects for which we are likely to see a demand from industry into the foreseeable future.'
Overall, the points needed to get into courses - including those outside the science and IT areas - have gone up. Some are blaming the additional 25 points given to those who passed honours maths for distorting the CAO points system.
For example, students who want to study history at Trinity College will need 490 points, whereas they required 475 in the first round last year.
Commerce with French in NUI Galway has increased by 20 points, from 475 to 495 and product design in DIT has gone up to 395 from 370.
But the points needed for Architecture and other construction-related courses have fallen as students shy away from the building industry.
Primary teaching has also seen a small drop this year. Those looking to get into St Patrick's in Drumcondra need five points fewer than last year to secure a place, while the points for Gaeltacht applicants has dropped by ten.
Students may have shunned the primary teaching because of reductions in starting salaries and the difficulty newly qualified teachers now have in finding a full-time jobs.
Of the 65,657 who applied to the CAO (including Leaving Cert students and mature students), 52,546 have received offers today. However, those who have yet to get an offer may be successful in the second round on August 30.
Competition is also increasing from foreign students and the numbers of people applying to the CAO from Britain and Northern Ireland has increased significantly for a second year. …