It is a record year for CAO applications, which now stand at 79,214, up from 74,424 recorded after the initial February deadline and from 77,977 this time last year.
Final figures on CAO course choices confirm trends that emerged earlier this year, with a lift in interest among applicants in areas where job opportunities are growing such as construction, technology and law, which is likely to trigger a rise in points for some courses in these disciplines.
The bounce back for the construction sector is obvious, with a 15% rise this year in applications for honours degree (Level 8) courses in architecture. The recovery in the building industry has clearly also prompted a 14% rise in first-preference applications for other construction and property-related honours degree courses.
Meanwhile law, which suffered a big downturn in demand during the recession, has seen an 11% growth in first preferences, when compared with last year.
Much of the almost 14% growth in students making engineering/technology courses their top choice is attributed to the wealth of opportunities for graduates with technology qualifications, which employers are often finding difficult to fill.
Honours degree courses are the most sought-after on the CAO, attracting 70,006 first preferences this year, up from 68,737 last year. In contrast, there were 46,991 applications for courses at Level 7/6 (ordinary degree and/higher certificate), down from 48,310 last year.
The average rise in demand for honours degree courses this year is 1.8% and other disciplines that have seen an above-average increases are: healthcare i.e. dentistry, medicine, "other healthcare", such as occupational therapy, administration and business. While the final first preference figure for medicine is up almost 4% to 2,978 on this time last year, it is down from the 3,283 who had made it their top choice in February. This is probably a consequence of students reviewing their chances after receiving the results of the HPAT aptitude test at the end of June.
CAO cut-off points for courses are linked to demand for the number of available places on individual courses. Changes in points from year to year follow swings in demand - with points rises often following an increase in applications, while points may drop where there has been a fall in student interest.
Disciplines that have recorded a drop in applications this year include arts, science, agriculture, physiotherapy, nursing and veterinary medicine. About four in five of this year's Leaving Certificate candidates have applied for a college place through the CAO. As well as 46,676 recent school-leavers, other applicants to the CAO include Leaving Cert candidates from previous years, students who have completed post Leaving-Certificate (PLC) and other further education courses and mature students.
The Leaving Certificate results will be released Wednesday 12th August, followed on Monday 17th August with the CAO Round 1 offers. The annual National Parents Council post primary (NPCpp) Exam Helpline will run for six days over the period to assist students and parents. Click here for more information.
The CareersPortal Team