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CAO points jump by a ‘reasonable chunk’ for college courses

The Government has created thousands of additional places on courses in an attempt to ease a spike in the points system.

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Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

CAO points to gain a place on some third-level courses have gone up by a “reasonable chunk”, sparking concerns of grade inflation.

Central Applications Office (CAO) offers are to be released at 2pm on Friday; however there are concerns over the rise in Leaving Certificate results and its impact on entry points.

More than 60,000 students learned their calculated grades on Monday.

Just over 47,000 level 8 offers will be released by the CAO this year, compared with 44,000 last year.

The Government has created thousands of additional places on courses in an attempt to ease a spike in the points system.

The majority of students who get the results today are going to be very pleased, they are going to be very pleased with the offer that they are going to getProfessor Pol O Dochartaigh

Professor Pol O Dochartaigh, chairman of the CAO board, said: “We haven’t done any kind of averaging across all of the courses. What I can say is that in some courses the points have gone up, probably by a reasonable chunk, others very slightly, and in some courses the points have actually gone down.

“That would be across the sector so it’s by no means a uniform picture.”

“It would be fair to say for the year that is in it there has been increased interest in everything to do with health, and therefore I think the demand has gone up there.

“The majority of students who get the results today are going to be very pleased, they are going to be very pleased with the offer that they are going to get.

“But, as in any other year, there will be some disappointed candidates. I think it’d be important to focus on them and what the next steps are for them.”

Prof O Dochartaigh said the number of applications received this year was “broadly similar” to previous years.

“I don’t think it was significantly up, but we have made an increased number of offers,” he added.

“I think that has been enabled by the additional places provided by government, and will lead to perhaps a few more smiles than people might have feared.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said this year has been stressful for students.

In a video message posted on social media, Mr Harris said students had prepared and studied for exams which could not be held because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Those of you in sixth year, you spent your final days and months in school at home, away from teachers and friends and support structures and extended family,” Mr Harris added.

“Today should be seen as the jumping-off point for the rest of your career, it’s not the end point. Many of you will get offers and you will be happy with them, some of you won’t and to those of you who won’t I understand your disappointment.

“Please know this doesn’t define you and please know that there are many ways of getting where you want to.”

Sinn Fein higher education spokeswoman Rose Conway-Walsh said she understood that some courses, including nursing and engineering, have gone up by 50 points.

“We did expect the points for the different courses would come out mid-morning and I think the fact they are not coming out until 2pm raises alarm bells with us as well,” she added.

“Also, Minister Harris has said overnight that there will be 120 new places. That suggests to us that there is a huge escalation in points.

“That is extremely worrying; we have said all along that government has mishandled this situation. This has left not only students from this year but also the prior students in a very difficult situation.”

PA