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The Rise and Fall of CAO Points 2015

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The Rise and Fall of CAO Points 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015 

The Rise and Fall of CAO Points 2015

Analysis of the first choices of applicants to college courses this year through the CAO indicates how points requirements for college places are likely to play out when the first round of college place offers are made to 2015 Leaving Cert students on 17th August. Brian Mooney reports the following:

  • Engineering, technology, law, architecture and other construction-related courses are likely to see a significant rise in CAO points for college entry this year, an analysis of applications has shown. The numbers applying for third-level courses in these areas have increased and this is likely to lead in turn to a rise in points since last year.
  • Points for arts, science, social science and primary teaching are likely to stay at a similar level to last year.
  • A small drop in points is possible for entry to veterinary science, pharmacy and physiotherapy.
  • The number of applications for agriculture indicate its points are likely to drop significantly since 2014.
  • Where application numbers are up significantly, points are also likely to rise.


The numbers applying for science programmes has levelled off in the past two years and the number of applicants who list it as their first choice are down by more than 1 per cent this year at 9,307. These application numbers will still leave points requirements north of 500 in colleges such as UCD and Trinity.


Application numbers for engineering/technology programmes are up this year by more than 14 per cent at 7,741. Numbers listing architecture as their first choice have increased by 15 per cent to 698 and construction-related programmes in areas such as construction management, surveying, valuation have recovered to their pre-2008. They are up 14 per cent in 2015 to 526, and CAO points will likely be up in August compared to last year.


The health of the application numbers for places in law seems to move in tandem with public perception of the health of the overall economy and the construction sector in particular. Applications numbers in 2015 are up 11 per cent to 2,492. Accordingly, points are likely to rise.

Nursing and Healthcare

It will be a relief to nursing applicants to see numbers are down by 2 per cent in 2015 to 5,476. On the other hand, application numbers have increased for the programmes classified by the CAO as “other healthcare”, in areas such as occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, optometry and so on, up by 12.5 per cent to 2,266.


Application numbers to the course with the highest points requirement in the State, veterinary medicine at UCD, which requires a minimum of 585, are down seven per cent in 2015 to 583. Similar decreases in application numbers are recorded this year in pharmacy and physiotherapy with the number of first-choice applications at 358 and 748 respectively.


The points requirements for medicine dropped substantially by between 14-18 in 2014 following the reconfiguration of the marking scheme for the Hpat test. It is not surprising, therefore, to see a small increase in medical application numbers in 2015. First-choice application numbers are up 106 or 4 per cent to 2,978. Application numbers for dentistry are up 6 per cent to 339.


The numbers of first choice applications for a place in arts/social science is down 1.5 per cent to 16,622. For those seeking a place in a primary-school teaching the news is similarly good, with application numbers remaining virtually unchanged on 2014. First-choice application numbers are up 30 to 5,011. The pattern in art and design is similar with only three extra applicants on last year’s numbers at 2,228.


Business courses remain popular, possibly related to economic confidence, and application numbers are up 2.3 per cent to 11,976. This could mean a 5-10 point increase for popular courses, and points for business generally won’t drop this year.


The numbers applying for places in agriculture/ horticulture as their first-choice option are down by 19 per cent to 657 from 811 in 2014. This is by far the largest percentage decrease in application numbers to level eight programmes in 2015.

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Article by Brian Mooney, Guidance Counsellor and Assistant Principal at Oatlands College, Mount Merrion in Dublin.


The CareersPortal Team