CAO receives record number of college applications

CAO receives record number of college applications

A record of 84,000 students have applied for a college place through the Central Applications Office (CAO) system for the 2021/2022 academic year.

In February, the number of applications received increased by 9 per cent compared to 2020, with 79,000 students registering their interest.

However, the figure has since eased past the 80,000-mark with the addition of late applications which were due on May 1st, according to The Irish Times.

It is believed the increase in people applying for college places will put pressure on the system and may cause the points requirements for courses to jump also.

Points system

The CAO system works in tandem with the Leaving Certificate exams for most applicants, with students achieving points based on their grades from their best six subjects in the State exams.

The points requirement for every course fluctuates each year based on demand, with the more people applying for a course likely to drive up the number of points required to secure a place.

Another aspect which may see points requirements further increase is the hybrid exam system being adopted once again this year due to Covid-19, with students being given the option to sit the written exams or receive a calculated grade.

Last year, the calculated grades system lead to an overall inflation of results, with students receiving, on average, higher points than previous Leaving Cert classes. Subsequently, data from the 2020 CAO found the points requirements for 70 per cent of courses increased.

Making space

To ease that pressure, Government sources have said the hope is to add 4,000 extra third-level places for the next academic year, a move which was also made last year.

Ministers are due to discuss their options at a Cabinet meeting this week, however higher education sources have warned that places in high-demand courses like medicine have "maxed out".

"We simply can’t accommodate any more applicants to these types of courses," a senior third-level source told The Irish Times.

"We don’t have the lab space, we don’t have access to additional clinical places, so I don’t see where these places can go," they added.

First round CAO offers are made a week after the Leaving Cert results are released, but students who have already submitted an application will be able to amend their course choices up until July 1st when the change of mind facility closes.

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