CAO Figures Show Continuing Popularity of Education, Law, and Business Accompanied by Increasing Demand for Teaching Courses

By Steven Galvin - Last update

Get Daily news and updates directly to your Email

The Central Applications Office (CAO) has released its latest data on first-preference applications for college courses, providing insights into the choices made by prospective third-level students. While education, law, and business courses continue to attract significant interest, the popularity of environmental studies has fallen. 

The CAO figures are based on data collected by July 1, the final deadline for making course choices for entry to college in September.

The total number of applications for college courses in 2023, with 83,801 applicants, remains consistent with the previous year. 

Since May, 46,886 applicants have utilized the ‘Change of Mind’ facility to adjust their course choices, showing a reduction in comparison to 2022.

CAO Figures Show Continuing Popularity of Education, Law, and Business Accompanied by Increasing Demand for Teaching Courses

Law, Business, and Interdisciplinary Courses

Law courses experienced a 5% increase in first-preference applications, demonstrating sustained interest among prospective students. Business and administration courses received the highest number of mentions overall, with 67,468 total mentions and 10,323 first preferences. Interdisciplinary courses and qualifications involving natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics also observed a 5% increase in applications compared to 2022.

See Law courses here

See Business courses here


Demand for teaching courses remains high this year, although there are notable differences between primary and secondary school teaching. Primary school teaching witnessed a 5% decline in first preferences, with 8,744 overall mentions and 2,450 first preferences. In contrast, secondary school teaching experienced a 14% rise in first-preference applications compared to last year.

See Teaching courses here.


Courses in the arts continue to be in demand, with 55,330 overall choices and 8,721 listed as first preferences. 

See Arts courses here


While environmental courses experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, there has been a decline in first-preference applications for these programs. Level 8 courses witnessed a 19% decrease in first-preference applications, while level 7/6 courses saw a 23% decline. Despite this decline, environmental courses were still mentioned 4,763 times as level 8 choices and listed 543 times as first preferences.

See Environmental courses here

Veterinary, Medicine, and Nursing/Midwifery

Courses in veterinary studies, medicine, and nursing/midwifery, which gained popularity during the pandemic, have also seen a decline in first-preference applications this year. Veterinary courses were mentioned 14% less compared to 2022, with first preferences down by 17%. First preferences for medicine and nursing/midwifery courses decreased by 9% compared to last year.

See Veterinary courses here

See Medicine courses here

See Nursing courses here

See Midwifery courses here


Figures based on report is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level, CAO and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses and colleges.

Steven Galvin

What is SUSI?
5 Influential Female Scientists Who Changed the World


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We'd love to send you the latest news and articles about evening classes, further learning and adult education by email. We'll always treat your personal details with the utmost care and will never sell them to other companies for marketing purposes.

Comments and Reviews Policy