Leaving Certificate points needed for many high- demand degree courses look set to rise again as nearly 700 students more than last year received over 450 points.
The improved exam results could particularly impact engineering and technology courses which have more students seeking entry through the Central Applications Office (CAO) than in 2014.
Nearly 47,000 of the 56,000 people who got Leaving Certificate results on Wednesday are among those hoping to be offered a college place by the CAO on Monday.
While students who passed higher level maths may add another 25 points to their CAO scores, 12,025 got 450 out of a maximum 600 before any bonus is added.
That is up from 11,345 a year ago, or from 21% to nearly 22% of those whose results have been supplied by the State Examinations Commission to help colleges decide who will be offered third-level entry.
There are just 215 people with 600 points, requiring six higher level A1s, but the proportion with at least 550 points is 3.2% after reaching 1,777, more than 200 higher than a year ago.
The number of school leavers scoring 500 or more is also up, by nearly 400 to 5,646, passing 10% of a Leaving Certificate year for the first time.
The bulk of around 47,000 places to be filled this year will offered by 44 colleges through the CAO on Monday morning.
The minimum points needed for each of the 1,400 available courses are decided not just by the numbers of places and applications, but also by the six best Leaving Certificate grades of each of the students applying.
‘Choices 2015’ supplement on Monday will publish CAO Round 1 points for all courses.
Last year, increases in numbers with top CAO points were far lower, but there were also nearly 1,100 more students eligible for 25 extra points for passing higher level maths than there had been the previous year.
The uptake of honours maths levelled off this year, meaning there are only 230 more with bonus points. But at nearly 14,000, they again make up nearly 30% of Leaving Certificate students who applied to the CAO.
Some of the biggest points increases a year ago were for degrees in engineering and computing, course categories for which demand is known to have risen in 2015.
However, while science degrees also saw increased entry points last year, a slight drop in demand might mitigate the possible effects of improved student performance.
Arts and social science remain the most popular level 8 degrees, accounting for the first preference of 16,614 out of 70,000 total applications. Demand has remained steady for teaching and nursing degrees, and for the restricted number of places in the country’s medical schools, for which students combine Leaving Certificate points with scores in the HPAT aptitude test taken in spring.
The CAO points figures emerged as the Department of Education confirmed that arrangements are being finalised which would mean asylum seekers who have been in Ireland for at least five years should not be liable for tuition fees of €15,000 or more from this autumn.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan is expected to announce details next week, but details need to be agreed with immigration and other justice sector agencies in relation to courses that contain a work placement element, as people seeking asylum are legally precluded from working here.
While this could be good news for dozens of students, many like Limerick-based asylum seeker Anna Kern who got 575 points on Wednesday will have to rely on other supports.
The Ukraine-born student, who is only in Ireland for two years, was told by Ms O’Sullivan to accept her college place with a commitment of every effort to assist her.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved