Over half of college courses have no second-round offers

MORE than half of honours degree college courses are not giving places to any applicants in the second round of offers today.

The unprecedented demand for entry to degrees in areas such as science, nursing, arts, social science, teaching and business mean the majority of these courses reached their quota of student numbers after last week’s first round.

Despite disruption to its website last week, the Central Applications Office (CAO) registered 36,392 online acceptances of places from the first round up to Monday evening’s deadline, more than 700 higher than at the same stage last year.

But as second-round offers go online at 6am today, statistics from the CAO show that just 1,434 people are getting their first offer of a place, compared with almost 2,100 a year ago.

Almost 19,900 must now look elsewhere or hope to get one of just a few hundred further spaces likely to be offered through the CAO up to mid-October when courses close for entry. A few dozen students who get upgrades in Leaving Certificate grades in the next few weeks may also get a late offer of one of their chosen study programmes.

Just over 5,000 offers are being made in the second round but most of these are to some of this year’s record 77,628 applicants who have qualified for a course higher on the list than one already offered to them before today.

The tight competition for places was prompted by the allocation of 12% more places in early stages of the CAO offer process in July and early August, with almost 7,300 mature students and others taking up an offer before the majority of places offered to school leavers and other applicants last Monday week after Leaving Certificate results were issued. A record number of students with more than 400 Leaving Certificate points helped the entry requirements on most courses rise from last year, with higher demand for courses in science and some engineering fields seeing the points needed for those courses jump significantly.

Analysis of points trends in today’s second round show that 90 of around 137 level 8 science (honours bachelor degree) courses are not offering any places. Similar high proportions of courses in arts and social science (85 out of around 170), teaching (17 out of 30) nursing (56 out of 88) and business and administration (more than 100 out of 180) had no vacancies after last week’s first round offers.

Only three of the five undergraduate medicine courses are offering places, with University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin making no offers today.

On level 7 and 6 courses, there was more mixed news, with no courses at Waterford Institute of Technology making second-round offers but many courses at Dublin Business School accepting students with just the minimum entry requirements.

Disappointed students have been reminded of the opportunities available through post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) and other further education programmes still open in Vocational Education Committee (VEC) colleges, as well as training courses offered by Fás and other state training agencies.

The deadline for student maintenance grant applications to councils and VECs was Tuesday but late applicants will be accepted.

A record number of students is expected to qualify this year because of rising unemployment and falling incomes, but the amounts being paid this year have been cut 5% by the Government.

Among those offered places today are some of the 1,500 people who applied for some of around 200 courses which opened up vacancies through the CAO website over the last week. This number includes more than 400 people who had not already applied for a course this year and the entry points for these courses have consequently risen.

- The Round 2 cut-off points for entry to all CAO courses are published on pages 18 to 20 of today’s Irish Examiner (print edition)


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