There has been a significant drop in the number of students choosing third-level courses in computing, maths and physics-based sciences this year.
The CAO says it received 72,643 applications by the February 1st deadline, a 4.5% drop on the previous year.
The Government has been making big efforts to encourage more students into maths and science-based courses. However, applications for physical sciences-based courses fell by over a quarter compared to last year, with a 36% drop in those making it their first preference.
The number of students choosing information/communication technology (ICT) courses dropped by 13%, while maths and statistics options were down 8%.
Applications for Arts courses were also down by a margin of 12%. In contrast, biological science courses were up 5%, Engineering rose 6%, and primary education courses were up 5%.