7.5% rise in students offered early CAO courses

The number of students offered college places in the early stages of the Central Applications Office (CAO) process is up 7.5% on last year.

The categories of students who can be offered a third-level place before the main offers after the Leaving Certificate results in mid-August include overseas students coming to Ireland, who may require early confirmation to facilitate visa arrangements.

Although official figures for non-EU applicants are not yet available, some colleges have reported increased interest from international students since the Brexit referendum vote last summer.

The latest CAO data shows more than 10,300 students have been offered places on 12,731 courses, both figures up 7.5% on the same stage on 2016.

The latest offers are issuing this morning to nearly 4,000 applicants for graduate medicine courses, some mature applicants and further education graduates, and others who do not compete directly for places with Leaving Certificate students.

While that figure is 13% higher than a year ago, more than 6,300 people received offers in the first preliminary round a month ago, 4% more than at the same time a year ago.

Andrew Deeks, president of University College Dublin, said in June that it has hired extra staff using income from increased intake from non-EU students who pay higher fees.

However, the university is also to consider restricting or cutting places for Irish students if the wider shortfall in funding for Third Level is not addressed soon.

Leaving Certificate students and most other CAO applicants must wait until August 21 before the bulk of offers to fill courses at more than 40 colleges are issued in the days after school-leavers get their exam results. Those who are offered places today have a week to notify the CAO if they wish to take up the course.

Meanwhile, science, technology, and engineering subjects should be available to students at all second-level schools, a group has recommended in a report addressing issues affecting their take-up.

At a meeting of people from different disciplines, funding agencies and industry representative bodies, ideas to encourage greater interest and understanding of science and science-related careers. The proposals that emerged have been published by biopharma company AbbVie, which has plants in Sligo and Cork, and which hosted the event.

The experts also suggest that more should be done to highlight role models working in science, technology, engineering, and maths.

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