Many students sitting the Leaving Cert spend a lot of time worrying about CAO points. The points for third-level courses can fluctuate. This makes it impossible to know how many points students will need for their first choice courses.
There is mostly good news for the more than 52,000 people who received their first CAO offers this morning. The points for two-thirds of college courses are unchanged or down on last year.
The numbers of students hoping to study engineering or technology has increased. However, this means that entrance to these courses is more difficult. Around half of the 140 engineering and technology degree courses need higher points than last year. However, points are down for a third of them.
Entrance to University College Cork’s engineering degree is up 75 points to 490. According to UCC’s admissions staff, this is due to a 50 percent increase in students choosing this as their first preference.
The points for most university arts course are unchanged or down. NUI Maynooth’s arts degree requirements are down by 20 points. However, UCC’s arts programme is up by 5 points.
Calls for CAO policy review
Mark Rogers, deputy president of University College Dublin, has called for a review of the subjects required to be eligible for university degrees. He says that Leaving Cert students are often obliged to sit exams unrelated to their preferred college courses.
“Educationally, it is better for students to take subjects that interest them at school rather than forcing them to take subjects purely to matriculate for university,” he said.
Since 2011 there have been calls for universities to reduce the number of degree choices available by merging entry routes to broad arts, engineering and science streams. Most universities have yet to do so, with the exception of UCD and Maynooth. The vast number of specialist degree programmes means that students need near-perfect Leaving Cert results for some courses.
It is significantly easier for students to get a place on a Level 6 higher certificate or Level 7 ordinary degree course. These are accepting students with 300 CAO points or less. Ireland’s institutes of technology run most of these courses.