Third-level colleges will today begin using Leaving Certificate results to decide offers for around 50,000 people next Monday.
The Central Applications Office (CAO) will make those offers on behalf of more than 40 colleges, which have received course lists from 79,000 prospective students this year.
The number of applicants is up slightly on last year, and includes nearly 46,700 who sat the Leaving Certificate in June. Their CAO points, calculated based on the six best grades for each student, will be compared for every course to decide on how places are allocated.
Last year, 47,000 places at 45 colleges were filled through the CAO up to mid-October, and similar numbers are likely to be taken up this year. The final statistics on applications after the change-of-mind facility closed to applicants on July 1 indicate increasing demand for engineering and technology degrees, but arts and social science still attract more interest than any other category.
The fact that numbers passing higher-level maths continues to rise — up 231 or 1.6% to 13,912 — will see points requirements in courses high on that cohort’s application forms rise. It is the fourth year that all colleges have been awarding 25 CAO points to applicants who sit and pass higher-level maths, which has helped to fuel points inflation in certain categories of degrees.
Already, the CAO has allocated almost 7,500 places in two preliminary rounds of offers. In early July, almost 5,200 places were accepted by certain categories of applicants, including some who needed to make visa or other arrangements before taking a place. Also among those to receive offers at that stage were applicants who had deferred a place offered last year; some mature applicants; or those who applied for CAO course codes in nursing or midwifery only open to mature applicants.
Almost 2,300 more places were filled last week after a smaller number of offers issued to others who do not compete for entry with Leaving Certificate or other students awaiting 2015 exam results. This can include people applying for courses which have a quota of places for those with further education qualifications, or applying as mature students.
The CAO will make the main Round One offers online at 6am on Monday, with every applicant also due to receive a postal statement regardless of whether they are offered a college course or not. The deadline for accepting offers is the following Monday, with further offers set to be made the next Thursday, August 27.
As the scramble for student accommodation looms, Fianna Fáil education spokesman Charlie McConalogue called for incentives to promote the development of student-specific schemes to meet rising demand.
“Over the past four years we have seen the situation with student accommodation worsen without any tangible action being taken. The most the minister for education has done is commission a report into the situation, which to date has still not been published.”
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