CAD points should increase significantly for most college courses

CAO points for entry into most university courses are set to rise significantly this year despite the government’s frantic efforts to ease the upward pressure by creating thousands more third-tier places.

Grade inflation in this year’s Leaving Cert results will see a record number of courses requiring more than 600 points.

University sources said the extra demands for high-demand courses are expected to result in increases of 20 to 30 points for entry, with spikes of up to 50 or 60 points in extreme cases.

Some 51,000 students are expected to receive university offers when they are published online at 2 p.m. Friday. This represents an increase of approximately 4,000 from last year and represents one of the largest admissions to higher education in the state.

Sources say there has been a 7% increase in CAO points for courses across all areas. This figure is higher than expected given that grade inflation was, on average, 4.4% for students under the new calculated grades process introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes despite the addition of nearly 5,000 more college places which Higher Education Minister Simon Harris says will be for high-demand courses in medicine, nursing, post-primary education and science.

The points for many of these courses would have jumped higher if additional places had not been created.


About 78% of university applicants would have received an offer from one of their top three choices this year for an honors degree or level eight courses. This percentage exceeds 90% among students enrolled in a regular degree or higher degree, known as level six or level seven courses.

The increase in CAD points in many courses will be a bitter disappointment for thousands of people who took the Leaving Cert in previous years. These deferred applicants fear that their results have been devalued due to grade inflation this year and thus they are missing out on college places.

The general upward trend in demand this year is for courses that offer clear career paths, such as health, business and environmental courses. Demand for broader courses such as arts and humanities, in many cases, has held steady or declined.

The vice-rector of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Jürgen Barkhoff, said it had created an additional 180 places in a range of high-demand courses, an increase of around 5% in its capacity. UCD said it has increased the number of first-year places for CAO applicants by 7% in fields including engineering, science, computing and the arts.

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