CAO offers 2022: race for college returning to normal but some top students still missing out



A bumper round of CAO offers brought plenty of good news today, but some of the highest-achieving students failed to get their top choice, because of inflated grades-related points pressure.

n some cases, even school-leavers with the maximum 625 points lost out in a ‘random selection’ lottery for their first preference offer.

Overall, places on 47 courses were offered after a lottery and, while a cruel blow for the applicants involved, it is down from 75 last year. It suggests the start of a return to normality after the disruption caused by Covid.

Points rose, or stayed, at last year’s spike levels for many programmes, including some arts and humanities offerings where points climbed from the mid-300s to 400 or above.

But the CAO first round also saw a widespread drop in points for popular courses such as nursing – down about 20-30 points across the board – and primary teaching.

Overall, 54 pc of honours degree applicants received their top choice – compared with the more usual 50pc – while 82pc got one of their top three, also above the norm. The success rates are even higher for Level 6 and 7 applicants

The CAO round one offers were released today, with a record 57,296 applicants receiving an offer today.

At University College Dublin, the country’s largest university, points rose for more than half – 18 of 35 – of its entry routes.

Meanwhile, at Trinity College, Dublin, points fell, by an average 3.5pc, on last year’s record levels, although there were still some eye-watering outcomes.

Many top-performing Leaving Cert candidates will feel a double disappointment at missing out on their top choice, even though they had the points.

This happens where places are allocated on a lottery basis – computer generated random selection – because too many students achieved the minimum points.

However, in better news for the class of 2022, both UCD and Trinity saw a reduction in the number of courses where they had to resort to this practice, when compared with last year.

At Trinity, nine courses were offered on a random selection basis and, while still a high figure, it is down from 17 in 2021.

In two of these, Dental Science and Management Science, places were offered at 625* points, the asterisk indicating that even for applicants who had the maximum points, the random selection lottery was used.

Other Trinity courses offered on random selection, and with the comparison with 2021 noted, were:

  • Pharmacy 613* unchanged.
  • PPES (combining the study of philosophy, political scien Pharmacy 613* unchanged.
  • Physiotherapy 590* unchanged
  • Global Business 601*, down from 613 (in 2021)
  • Radiation Therapy 556* , down from 577
  • Human Health and Disease 601* unchanged
  • Biological and Biomedical Science 578* unchanged.
  • Points for medicine at Trinity rose to 745, but applicants were spared the random selection that occurred last year, when minimum points were lower, at 743*, but there was a lottery for places. At UCD medicine was offered on 743 points.

Overall, Trinity had five courses offered at the maximum at 625 points.

UCD the highest points course was Economics and Finance, at the maximum 625, and was offered without the use of random selection.

UCD reduced the number of degrees on random selection to two: Veterinary Medicine 601* and Commerce 554*.

Overall, UCD had five degrees requiring more than 600 points on the same points as last year, also including Actuarial and Financial Studies at 613; Physiotherapy at 601, Biomedical, Health & Life Sciences at 613.

But despite some notable stability at the top, there were also some significant hikes.

UCD’s Humanities programme saw a jump of 45 points to 442, while its BA Joint Honours climbed 19 to 400 and its Modern Languages course saw a 60-point jump to 380.

UCD deputy president and registrar Professor Barbara Dooley said the points were “a reflection of the grade inflation at Leaving Cert level”, adding that “there is always a pattern connecting first preferences with points as the demand drives points”.

Trinity’ Vice-Provost Professor Orla Sheils said she was concerned about “the inequity brought about by grade inflation”. She added: “A lottery system for high-points courses is very unfair. We need to get back to a fairer competition.”

She quoted the economist Fred Hirsch, who once said: “If everyone stands on tiptoe, no one sees better.”

Maynooth University, which offered additional places in disciplines in computer science, biomedical sciences, physics and science education, will see its first-year numbers grow to over 3,750 students.

The university’s Bachelor of Arts degree continues to experience high demand with additional places offered this year to meet it. The degree has seen the highest applications and first preferences of any course in the country.

More places were also opened in its popular BA, which has the highest applications and first preferences of any course in the country.

As well as the courses where more places are opening, Maynooth’s new four-year full-time degree in Business and Languages to support the economy in a post-Brexit era, also experienced significant demand.

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