Increase in 2021 CAO Applicants

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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The CAO application process officially closed last week with its Change of Mind facility and this week the CAO have released data on who applied for what at the close of the application process. This year there was an increase in 2021 CAO applicants.

Increase in 2021 CAO Applicants

Overall 2021 saw a rise in the total number of CAO applicants from 77,831 in 2020 to this year’s 84,526, marking an 8.6% increase. Of this year’s applicants 43,978 – more than half of the applicants – took advantage of the Change of Mind facility and amended their course application preferences during May and June. The rise in the number of applicants adds to the pressure for places on many courses leading to the possibility of CAO cut-off points on certain courses being higher than last year’s. Extra college places have been promised this year, but whether that can match the rising demand remains to be seen.

This year there are 77,356 applicants for honours degree (Level 8) courses, which is an 8% rise from last year’s numbers. While applicants for ordinary degree/higher certificate (Level 7/6) stands at 42,161, which marks a 5% increase on last year.

Level 8

Looking at the most popular subject areas, it is health that remains the most popular course category. This year’s CAO data reveals 15,108 applicants selected a health related course as their first preference, which marks a 13% rise from 2020. Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy proving to be the most popular subjects – Medicine up 20%, Nursing up 15% and Pharmacy up 23%. These numbers will more than likely result in points increases for courses.

Business and Administration is the second most popular course category, with 9,835 applicants making it their first preference, marking a 3% increase on last year’s numbers. Not much of an increase but more so a steady ship.

Environment, Journalism & Information, and Hygiene and Occupational Health Services all experienced large jumps as first preferences. Environment saw an increase of 50%,  Journalism & Information climbed 42% while Hygiene and Occupational Health Services saw increase of 29%.

On the flip side, Welfare, Transport Services, Interdisciplinary programmes and qualifications involving arts and humanities, Manufacturing & Processing and, surprisingly, Law all saw a drop in first preferences this year.

CAO Offers Timetable

On 7th July Round A offers were made to over 6,700 applicants – these included:

  • deferred applicants
  • mature applicants
  • applicants who have completed an Access course
  • those who need to make visa arrangements before taking a place

On 5th August, CAO will issue offers of places to certain categories of applicant who are not competing with those awaiting 2021 examination results or who are assessed on other criteria, i.e. graduate entry medicine applicants, additional mature, deferred and Access applicants and applicants presenting QQI FET/FETAC (2002-2021) for consideration for entry to courses with a quota for QQI FET/FETAC applicants may also be included at this stage.

On 7th September, CAO will issue the main body of offers following the Leaving Certificate Examination results coming out.A further 4 rounds of offers will be made until courses are filled:

  • Round Two will open on 20th September
  • Round Three will open on 28th September
  • Round Four will open on 5th October
  • Round Five will open on 12th October 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

Microbiology Courses
Management Science


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