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CAO demand for Science Computing and Agri Courses

Posted by Francis O' Toole on April 16, 2012

CAO demand for Science Computing and Agri Courses
Friday, March 09, 2012

COLLEGE hopefuls are dramatically swinging to science, computing and agriculture as they chase courses offering the best job prospects, new CAO figures reveal. The CAO demonstrates how arts and business courses – the twin pillars of the college admissions system – are both in decline.

School-leavers are clearly heeding the message from ministers and industry chiefs that these subjects hold out by far the best hope of employment after college. And the resurgence in the farming and food industry is reflected in continuing strong demand for agriculture courses, with interest doubling in the past five years.

In contrast, the former much sought-after architecture and construction courses continue to slide in parallel with the collapse of the building industry. Public service job cuts have clearly had an impact on student choice, with reductions in applications for teaching and some healthcare courses, such as physiotherapy. However, demand for medicine and nursing is up.

And there are signs of an increase in those looking to do law, which suffered badly when the property market crashed and demand for conveyancing collapsed. The trends emerge in a breakdown of the 71,648 applications to the CAO this year. Overall, applications are up by about 400 on 2011.

First preferences for science, including computing, at honours degree level (level 8) increased by 18.47pc this year and is up 63.5pc since 2008. University College Dublin attracted the largest number of first-preference applications to the CAO, up almost 11pc on last year to a record 8,385.

The surge in interest in computing is underscored with a 44pc rise in applications for computer science at UCD, a 60pc increase at NUI Maynooth, a 28pc rise at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and 18pc at Letterkenny IT. At TCD’s School of Mathematics, ranked 15th in the world, first-preference applications are up 80pc.

The figures also show a collapse in applications for level 7 programmes in social care and early childhood education, reflecting a lack of confidence in employment opportunities in these sectors. UCD registered an impressive 10 per cent increase in applications, In TCD the increase was 5 per cent, and in NUI Maynooth 4 per cent.

Trinity has also recorded a 25pc rise in applications for law this year, the first time in five years that demand has increased, while at UCD law is up 5pc.

Higher Education Authority chief executive, Tom Boland, said it was vital for Ireland’s future economic and social development that it had a greater number of top-class graduates in science and technology.

Based on an article by Katherine Donnelly, Irish Independent, 9/3/2012

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