Universities will be forced to use a lottery to select applicants for many advanced courses due to the number of students earning high marks this year.
This despite a government decision this year to add 1,000 more college places in the hope of easing some of the points race and reducing the reliance on random selection.
Random selection is expected in many courses with entry requirements of 550 points or higher due to “clustering” of students with the highest grades due to Leaving Cert grade inflation.
These courses relate to fields such as medicine, dentistry, economics and finance and management sciences, among others.
In a small number of cases, students who obtained the maximum points – 625 – risk losing their first choice in first-round offers due to the number of other applicants who also obtained the highest marks in all subjects. .
In total, just over 84,300 people in total applied for CAD courses this year. The points required for entry to individual classes will be released at 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
Overall, the points for most courses are expected to remain at a high level compared to last year, due to inflated grades and a high number of university applicants.
Government sources hope that, overall, around three-quarters of applicants will get one of their top three course preferences. This generally corresponds to the last few years.
This year the government has provided an additional 1,000 places in targeted colleges in high demand areas where there are skills shortages such as medicine, healthcare, social services, engineering and related courses to climate change.
Medicine, in particular, has been expanded by about 60 places this year, with the aim of increasing the number of graduates and reducing reliance on random selection.
However, it is understood that random selection will still be used in some medical courses this year, although the points may be at a slightly lower level.
The level of supply and demand for individual college courses and applicants’ grades are key factors in determining whether entry points are rising or falling.
It is likely that there will be upward pressure in areas where there has been an increase in college applications this year, such as environment, architecture / construction and some arts courses or humanities.
On the other hand, nursing and many health-related courses have seen a drop in the number of applicants this year.
While the focus has been on the impact of grade inflation at the top of grades, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Vice-President and Registrar of the University of Galway, warned that some students with lower points — but bloated — might struggle in college.
These students, he said, may have struggled to get 300 to 350 points in normal times, but can now have those points and will progress to college thanks to Leaving Cert grade inflation.
However, he said some might not get away with it given that student aid “can’t cover everything” and more independent driving is needed in third grade compared to high school.
In an article for The Irish Times, Professor Ó Dochartaigh also called for Leaving Cert grades to return to normal levels and for a “serious discussion” around our desired higher education participation rate at the national scale. Ireland currently has the fifth highest rate in the world.
“Is this where we want to be? This discussion must start in earnest as soon as possible, for the good of our society and our economy, and above all for the good of our young people themselves. More than anything, we have to be honest with them,” he said.