Half of 52,000 college offers already accepted, says CAO

Half of the 52,000 students offered a college course have already accepted places, according to the Central Applications Office (CAO).

More than half of the 43,114 applicants offered an honours (level 8) degree by CAO yesterday morning got their first-preference course, meaning there was little to think about. The figure was 86% for those who received an offer to take up an ordinary degree or higher certificate (level 7 or 6 course), but many of these might also have received a level 8 course.

By 11am yesterday, nearly 19,500 people had accepted an offer from the CAO, rising to 24,500 by mid-afternoon and nearly 26,000 last evening.

More than 10,000 had accepted within an hour of being able to check for offers after the CAO updated applicants’ statuses from 6am.

The points for just over half of all level-8 degrees were down on those at the same time last year, and remained the same in the case of 10% of those courses.

Students needed higher CAO points than in round one last year for nearly 40% of courses, but most were still within 15 points of what they were a year ago.

The trends are similar to a year ago, and an increase in places being offered by colleges played a significant role. However, it is still unclear what effect reforms to Leaving Certificate grades and the corresponding CAO points scale may have had.

The CAO released data yesterday showing that nearly 6,800 students, or 12% of this year’s 55,770 Leaving Certificate candidates, got 500 points or higher out of a maximum 625. Nearly 13,400 people had between 400 and 400 points, meaning over a third of Leaving Certificate students earned at least 400 points.

Because the statistics factor in the awarding of 25 bonus points given to those who passed higher-level maths, something the CAO did not include when providing the data in previous years, it is not possible to directly compare 2017 students’ performance with that of last year.

This hinders the ability to analyse what effect the reforms have had on overall CAO points scores and, consequently, on the points requirements for the 1,300-plus courses filled through the system.

The high numbers receiving their first preferences in CAO Round 1 mean places will be at a premium when Round 2 offers are made on Thursday, August 31.

Last year, the CAO made offers in Round 2 to just 1,900 people who had no previous offer, suggesting close to 20,000 of this year’s 81,000 applicants will remain disappointed next week.

For applicants who are still considering whether to accept an offer, or which of two offers they prefer to take, the deadline for acceptance is next Monday at 5.15pm.

For anybody hoping to get an upgrade to one or more of their Leaving Certificate results, this evening is the deadline by which they should notify their schools if they wish to see their marked exam papers.

The number doing so may increase this year but because the gap between grades is now 10 percentage points rather than 5 historically, fewer students may be close enough to the next grade boundary to make an appeal.


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