CAO points remained at last year’s record high, with most applicants – 82% – securing one of their top three course preferences in this year’s CAO undergraduate offerings.
Just over half of applicants – 52% – got their course preferences.
However, universities have been forced to use random selection, or a lottery, to select candidates in around 50 courses this year.
This is due to the “clustering” of students with the best grades due to graduation grade inflation.
Among the courses covered are those in fields such as medicine, dentistry, economics and finance, and management sciences, among others.
However, the proportion of random lessons is down from 75 lessons last year.
A total of 57,296 students received offers from the CAO as of 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The number of offers is up by around 2,000 compared to last year.
Points have climbed in many environment-related, construction-related courses – such as architecture and quantity surveying – as well as in arts and humanities programs.
They fell in fields such as nursing, journalism and primary education. This was widely expected and matches the trends in the number of requests this year.
Some of the higher courses are in areas such as medicine, dental science, veterinary science, global business courses, as well as some computer science and engineering courses.
A number of programs have also reached the maximum cap of 625 points.
They include studies in dental science, management science and information systems from Trinity College Dublin; bidisciplinary combinations including philosophy and sociology; social policy and political science; sociology and social policy. At UCD, economics and finance also climbed to 625 points.
Minister for Further and Higher Simon Harris today said it was a “major milestone | for students as they receive their first CAD offers and embark on the next stage of their educational journey.
“This cohort of students completed most of their Leaving Cert cycle under the cloud of Covid -19, and all the learning challenges that brought. They showed drive, understanding and incredible flexibility to make sure the system worked, and for that I want to thank them and their teachers,” he said.
However, universities are concerned about the impact of grade inflation and, in particular, the impact on high achieving students
Trinity Vice Provost Orla Sheils expressed concern about the inequity caused by grade inflation.
“A lottery system for high-point courses is very unfair. We must return to fairer competition. As economist Fred Hirsch once said, “If everyone stands on tiptoe, no one sees better,” she said.
Professor Barbara Dooley, UCD vice-president and senior registrar, said this year’s points reflect grade inflation at the Leaving Cert level.
She said the university had worked to try to widen the entry routes to help prevent the points from “spinning around”.
“We are fully aware that students who do not get their first preference may be disappointed, especially when they have done so well on the Leaving Certificate,” she said.
“Over the years, we have reduced the number of entry routes and made more common entries in broad areas such as science and engineering in an effort to keep the points from skyrocketing. This is good for the student who can sample different options in first or second year and then specialize towards the end of their degree.
The colleges in brief:
First-round bids for UCD show point increases for about half of the university’s 35 entry routes.
The biggest climber is humanities (442), up 83 points. In addition, the joint arts/humanities mention progresses (400), a leap of 44 points, as well as modern languages (380) which progress by 60 points.
Other major upside drivers include sustainability (543), up 37 points, urban planning and environmental policy (455), up 35 points, in line with this year’s trends showing interest increased number of school leavers for the environment.
A total of five degrees require more than 600 points and remain at the same level as last year: actuarial and financial studies (613), veterinary medicine (601 with drawing lots), physiotherapy (601), biomedical sciences, health and Life (613), and Economics and Finance (625).
Economics and Finance is the highest point requirement for any course at UCD (625) and has 55 places.
UCD reported success in reducing the number of random selection degrees to two: veterinary medicine (601) and business (554).
Trinity College Dublin
The university estimates that about five out of six students (84%) who got a CAD offer from Trinity in the first round received one of their first three choices, while 60% received their first choice.
Overall, it says cut-off points for courses offered in the first round have dropped by an average of 3.5 points.
A total of nine single-specialization courses are randomly selected in 2022.
These are dental sciences (625); management science and information systems studies (625); philosophy, political science, economics and sociology (613, unchanged); physiotherapy (590*, unchanged), radiotherapy (556*), down 11 points; human health and diseases (601, unchanged); biological and biomedical sciences (578, unchanged); pharmacy (613, unchanged); and world trade 601 (vs. 613*)
This is down from the 17 courses that were randomly selected at the same stage last year.
Although medicine was not drawn this year, the points rose slightly (745 points, including Hpat, up two points).
The number of OAC candidates opting for Trinity as their first choice has steadily increased in recent years and is up 45% from 2019.
A sign of the extent of grade inflation, three bidisciplinary combinations (philosophy and sociology; social policy and political science; and sociology and social policy) were a maximum of 625 points, without drawing lots.
Other courses that saw strong increases included computer science, linguistics and a language (543), up 100 points.
Middle Eastern and European Languages and Cultures also saw their points climb to 552 (up 32), as did Business Studies and Polish (431), up 40 points.
University of Galway
A mixed trend this year with point increases for 28 programs and decreases for 34 programs.
All engineering and law programs are above the 500 point barrier, as well as all but one business program.
Three courses require more than 600 points – medicine, which is randomly awarded, although additional places have been obtained nationally. The others are Biomedical Sciences and Commerce in International Hotel Management, at Shannon College of Hotel Management, which has a combined score requirement.
Three courses saw an increase of more than 50 points—environmental science; project and construction management; electrical and electronic engineering.
Seven programs saw a drop of more than 50 points: arts with human rights; arts — drama, theater and performance; the arts with journalism; BSc Applied Social Sciences; global media; BA sna dana (léann teanga); electronics and computer engineering.
The university says the number of freshmen will increase to more than 3,750 students with an increase in places in a range of disciplines such as computer science, biomedical sciences, physics and science education.
He also says there is significant demand for his new full-time, four-year degree in business and languages to support the economy in a post-Brexit era.
As in previous years, the university’s Bachelor of Arts continues to see high demand with additional places offered this year to meet this growing demand. The degree has seen the highest applications and first preferences of any course in the country.
Increased public awareness of science stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have sparked strong interest in the Maynooth BSc in Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
University College Cork reflects many of the trends that are taking place nationally.
Medicine remains at a high level (738 points, including Hpat), but was placed in the draw, a blow for some high achievers. This is despite the additional medicine places announced by the government earlier this year, which were intended to remove some of the heat from the points race.
Similarly, Dentistry (625 points) is randomly selected, which means that some students who scored maximum points still failed the course.
Arts and humanities courses are popular this year, with corresponding point increases. English (402) is up 35 points, as is International Arts (452), up 12.
By contrast, nursing and some health science courses – which enjoyed renewed interest at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic – are down.
General nursing (464) is down 34 points, as are public health sciences (455), down 50 points, and medical and health sciences (566), down 12 points.