Rocketing CAO points leaves some students who got top marks in Leaving Certificate without first choice

By Ailbhe Daly

Students who landed top marks in the Leaving Certificate may still miss out on their college place due to rocketing points.

More than 82,000 offers were sent out to over 55,000 applicants on Tuesday afternoon and despite the rise in points, with half of people receiving an offer of their first choice course.

This percentage is slightly lower than last year when 52% received a first preference offer.

Nearly 80% of Level 8 applicants were offered a course in their top three course preferences while almost 90% of those who applied for level 7/6 courses were offered one of their top picks.

CAO applicants can check to see if they have received an offer by logging into their account on the CAO website and offers must be accepted by 3pm on Monday 13 September.

09/06/2021 Leaving Cert students from The Institute on Leeson Street (L to R) Aimee woolley donabate Leigh McMorrow from Leopardstown Ekaterina Simakova from Lucan after finishing their English paper in Dublin’s city centre. (Collins Photo Agency)

Niamh Dwyer, the chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Institute of Guidance Counsellors, said the number of applications has increased from 78,000 last year to 84,000 applications this year.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, she said: “While an extra 4,650 places have been allocated across high demand courses - such as nursing, pharmacy, medicine, science, law and media, some students will be disappointed, as there will be a shortfall.”

According to the online careers portal, Health was again the most popular course category in 2021.

09/06/2021 Leaving Cert student from The Institute on Leeson Street Ekaterina Simakova from Lucan after finishing their English paper in Dublin’s city centre. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins (Collins Photo Agency)

This year, 15,108 students put down a health-related course as their first preference, which is 1,782 more than in 2020.

Business and Administration, which is the second most popular course category this year, saw a 3% increase in a number of first preferences - equalling 9,835 students.

09/06/2021 Leaving Cert student Emily Tilson from Ballsbridge at The Institute on Leeson Street after finishing their English paper in Dublin’s city centre (Collins Photo Agency)

The areas with the largest increases in terms of the number of first preferences were Environment, up by 50%, Journalism & Information (+42%), and Hygiene and Occupational Health Services (+29%).

Further increases in some Specialist areas were seen in Pharmacy (+23%), Medicine (+20%), and Nursing & Midwifery (+15%) which means that point increases in these high-demand areas are predicted.

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