CAO offers show major improvement in matching student choices

By Niall Gormley

Almost 60 per cent of students received their first preference choice in the Round One offers from the CAO for Level 8 courses. This represents a 5 per cent increase in first preference offers over last year. Around 85 per cent of applicants received an offer from their first three preferences.

In Level 6 and 7 courses, 90 per cent of applicants got their first preferences and 99 per cent were offered one of their top three choices.

The news on first preferences was welcomed by the Department of Education and is seen as a success for their initiatives to reduce competition, particularly around medicine education. Points for nursing courses fell in response to the opening of additional places, including some in Northern Ireland funded by the government in Dublin.

Points drop

Speaking on RTE, Provost of Trinity College Dublin Dr Linda Doyle said points have dropped because there are more places available and there are more universities offering courses this year. Dr Doyle said that TCD reduced its use of random selection to offer places to those on equal points.

“In Trinity this year, we have only four courses that were using random selection as distinct from nine last year, so it is improving,” she said.

Further education transfers

CAO figures showed that there was a significant increase in the numbers of students accessing Higher Education courses from the Further Education sector. Numbers presenting QQI FET qualifications rose from 10,589 in 2022 to 10,999 this year.

In contrast, numbers accessing college through the HEAR scheme, for those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, fell from 9,247 in 2022 to 8,620 in 2023. The reason for this decline is not clear but is likely to be related to improvements in the Further Education routes.

There was a huge 13 per cent rise in access through the DARE scheme, for people with disabilities, with numbers rising from 8,730 in 2022 to 9,910 this year.

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