Chances look slim of any course being offered to over 17,000 third-level applicants without a place so far, as tens of thousands snapped up their places yesterday.
The Central Applications Office (CAO) made offers to 52,289 people online and by post, and nearly 6,600 of them were accepted in the first hour after applicants began logging in at 6am. By mid-morning, the number of acceptances had passed 18,000 and it had passed 25,400 by 4.30pm, 2,000 more than at the same time a year ago.
Further college places in subsequent rounds will be very limited, as most people receiving offers yesterday were offered their top choice of course. This would mean that those places offered to them cannot become available by them accepting a place on a different study programme later.
At least 5,000 places are offered each year after the main Round 1 offers that follow the Leaving Certificate results, mostly to people who had already got an offer by this stage. But a higher proportion than last year who got a course yesterday are no longer eligible to be offered any other course.
For 52% of those who received a level 8 (honours) degree course offer yesterday, it was their first preference, slightly more than at the same stage in 2015. Nearly 80% have been given one of their three top preferences.
The proportion of Level 7 and 6 offer recipients for whom the course they have been offered is their top choice is also up, from 83% to 85% since last year.
The number of overall full applicants is not, however, as high as previously thought after the CAO said that 3,319 people had not listed any courses. When these are removed from the total figure of 80,887 applications, it means just over 77,500 people sought entry to third-level through CAO.
With 7,164 places already filled before this week, 17,264 people have still not been offered any course, over 800 more than the corresponding figure a year ago.
Of nearly 16,500 in the same position after Round 1 offers in 2015, less than 1,850 — around one-in-nine — were subsequently offered a place up to the end of the process in mid-October.
Around 150 courses will open for fresh applications at midday today after dozens of third-level programmes were added to the CAO website’s available places facility.
Existing applicants and people who did not yet apply this year can seek entry to these courses.
As reported by the Irish Examiner yesterday, the CAO points needed to get onto two-thirds of courses did not rise compared to last year. This was due to a combination of capacity being increased by many colleges on some disciplines in response to growing demand, and slightly lower numbers of Leaving Certificate students with higher levels of points scores.
After next Monday’s 5.15pm deadline to accept Round 1 offers, the next stage of offers will be made on Thursday week, September 1, at 6am.
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