The points needed for two-thirds of college courses are unchanged or down on last year as more than 52,000 people receive offers for third-level study this morning.
But with the easing of pressure for points mostly down to colleges increasing their intakes and slightly lower Leaving Certificate performance, calls remain to reform the higher education entry system.
Points are up for one-third of the more than 870 level 8 (honours) degrees, which generally require much higher Leaving Certificate results than those from levels 6 or 7 course lists.
But the points remain the same for one-in-four, and have fallen on last year’s Round 1 cut-off standards for nearly 40% of level 8 degrees.
Last year, students needed more points for nearly half of all level 8 courses.
However, there are exceptions in some course categories where expanded places in colleges and the slightly weaker exam results than last were not enough to counter the increased level of interest from students.
Close to half of 140 engineering and technology degrees, for example, command higher points than in 2015, and points are down for just one-third of them.
University College Cork’s engineering degree has shot up 75 points to 490, attributed by admissions staff to a 50% rise in numbers listing it as their first preference.
The minimum CAO points for most of the main university arts degrees are the same as last year or down, by as much as 20 points at Maynooth University due to increased intake and the inclusion of some other humanities degrees into its main BA entry route.
The one exception is at UCC where arts is up five points to 355 this year.
University College Dublin’s deputy president Mark Rogers has called for the subjects required to be eligible for any university degree to be reviewed, with what he sees as unnecessary onus for some students to take Leaving Certificate exams unrelated to their interests or to their chosen college courses.
“Educationally, it is better for students to take subjects that interest them at school rather than forcing them to take subjects purely to matriculate for university,” he said.
Despite calls since 2011 for universities to significantly reduce the number of degree choices for Leaving Certificate students by merging specialist entry routes to broader arts, engineering and science codes, UCD and Maynooth University are the only ones to have made notable progress in this regard.
With around 230 of the 600 university CAO degree courses at Trinity College Dublin, entrants to some of its arts degrees still have to have near-perfect Leaving Certificate results.
At the other end of the scale, the vast majority of the 460 ordinary degree and higher certificate (levels 7 and 6, respectively) courses offering places this morning, are accepting students with 300 CAO points or less. That is the equivalent of D2s in six higher level Leaving Certificate subjects, or six ordinary level A2s for entry to these courses, mostly run by the 14 institutes of technology.
The trends reflect the shift in student demand away from arts and social science, although they remain the single biggest category of places being filled by CAO, towards engineering, technology and business-oriented degrees.
Points are up for just over one-third of all level 8 business courses, and down for close to 40%, as colleges have responded to rising demand with plans to increase intake to these programmes.
With more than 7,100 places filled in preliminary offer rounds, largely by overseas and mature students, over 60,000 of the record almost 81,000 CAO applicants have now been offered a college place.
The Round 1 points for all CAO courses appear in the 12-page Choices for College supplement inside today’s Irish Examiner.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved