A slight drop in the number of students with top Leaving Certificate points scores could limit point rises in a number of high-calibre college courses.
More than 70,000 students are hoping to get one of around 52,000 college offers being made by the Central Applications Office (CAO) on Monday, including more than 47,000 applicants who got their exam results on Wednesday.
Although less than one in ten of them secured 500 or more out of a maximum 600 points in the CAO system, before any bonus for higher-level maths is added, official figures show their numbers are down on last year. This feat was achieved by 5,497 students this week, 149 fewer than last year, while the numbers with 400 points or more are down by about 50 to 19,693.
Although the grades for 55,708 students are included in the statistics, the CAO has only received applications from 47,654 people who were due to sit the Leaving Certificate in June. As it was last year, the points score of the average student is 345, 10 more than in 2013, and up from 325 in 2010.
A year ago, for the first time, more than 10% of school-leavers got 500-plus points; the numbers with at least 400 points was up by nearly 2,000 since 2013. These were factors in the points rising for nearly half of all level 8 (honours) degree courses, but they fell for nearly a third of courses at that level, and were unchanged for the remaining one in four.
Cut-off points for each of the 1,400 CAO courses are also determined by the standard of applicants, as well as any significant changes to numbers who apply or how many places are available. The impact of the 25 bonus points for maths may come into play, with nearly 14,500 people doing so this year, about 500 more than in 2015.
This year has seen rises in demand for courses under some level 8 course categories, such as engineering, technology, and nursing, but the different factors will all influence how the cut-off points are decided over the weekend. In addition, although around 7,100 places have already been accepted by overseas applicants, mature students, and some with further education qualifications, that is 300 fewer than this time last year.
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