The upward trend in Leaving Certificate points needed to get into hundreds of college courses shows no sign of abating and is particularly evident in many study disciplines.
Of around 930 level-8 courses listed by colleges with the CAO this year, 871 have comparable points scores with 2014, the rest being new courses or changed course codes.
The Irish Examiner’s analysis of Round 1 points shows they are up on last year’s for some 395 (45%) of degrees, down for 266 (31%) and unchanged for around 200. While the average increase is around 15 points, much higher figures emerge when looking at engineering and technology.
Of 116 level-8 engineering and technology degrees which were also offered last year, 61 — or 53% — have a higher entry cut-off today. But the size of increases is just as significant as the number, the average jump being 25 points.
Even at University College Dublin, the country’s largest third-level institution, the common entry engineering route which has a significant 250 places being offered this morning, requires 20 more points than in Round 1 2014. The 510 points needed is the highest for any engineering degree, but Dublin Institute of Technology’s electrical/electronic engineering option and NUI Galway’s energy systems engineering degrees both also command 500-plus points, as does Trinity College Dublin’s engineering with management.
Trinity’s management science and information degree is only offering places to applicants with at least 555 points, 40 more than a year ago. Some of the highest cut-off points for engineering are at NUI Galway, where five degrees in that category require 50 to 75 points more than last year.
Some universities have pointed to a particular surge in demand for those courses with an innovation or design element.
University of Limerick, for example, highlighted increases of 40 points to 375 for computer systems, and a 15-point rise to 415 for product design and technology, among nearly 45 of its programmes for which better CAO points than 2014 are needed. Maynooth University’s product design (marketing and innovation) is up 20 points to 285 and its entrepreneurship degree has gone up five points to 360.
Business and administration degrees have also seen significant points rises, nearly 100 out of 180 up on last year’s entry level, and dozens needing 25 points or more higher than a year ago. While many of those are at smaller independent colleges, and could be attributable to reduced intake, degrees such as commerce with Italian at University College Cork and Trinity’s computer science and business are both 35 points higher than 2014, at 415 and 500 points, respectively.
While science and applied science courses were listed as first preference by fewer honours degree applicants than in 2014, just over half of the 136 such degrees need more points than last year. However, the increases are far more moderate than those for the engineering/technology, nearly two-thirds of those 71 science degrees requiring higher points being up just five to 15 on this time a year ago.
Although mathematical sciences and applied physics at UL show some of the biggest jumps (up 45 to 435, and 40 to 395, respectively), applied physics at DCU is down 20 to 410 and UL’s mathematics and physics fell by the same margin to 460 points.
Just over a handful of nursing degrees not restricted to mature applicants have the same points as last year. However, perhaps reflecting the steadying of demand, the vast majority of nearly 40 others are either up or down just 10 points or less.
And with the nursing courses offered to 1,319 people this morning being the top choice of just over a third of them, any of the 5,486 applicants listing a nursing degree as their first preference who are disappointed today might get good news in subsequent CAO offer rounds.
Conversely, all but 13 of the 88 students offered a place on the country’s only veterinary medicine degree, at UCD, where points dropped five to 575, are getting their first choice.
Not far behind is the likely satisfaction rate among nearly 1,200 people being offered art and design degree places, as nearly three-quarters of those have the opportunity to pursue the number one course on their CAO application. Most of the 39 level-8 courses in this category use combined points from Leaving Certificate results and a portfolio.
The HPAT aptitude test taken in spring remains an additional selection method to exam results for entry to medical schools, most of which saw minor jumps in entry standards. Following drops of between 14 and 18 points in Round 1 cut-offs a year ago for all five undergraduate medicine degrees, all of them except TCD’s degrees today require two or three points more, the lowest still being NUIG’s 723-point threshold. This follows a marginal reversal of a big dip in numbers listing medicine as their first choice in 2014, but first preferences still remained below 3,000.
Primary teaching degrees are up five points to 470 for the biggest courses, at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, and at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, whose students will be registered at Dublin City University for the first time this autumn.
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