Job fears push the points race to new levels
TOUGH: Record numbers applying
COLLEGE places will be even harder to secure this year as the points race reaches unprecedented levels.
As more young people turn to education to ride out the recession, the entry points for dozens of popular courses are being pushed up.
Record numbers of students are expected to apply for third-level places by the time the CAO deadline closes on February 1.
However, where once the focus was on subjects such as computing, construction and architecture, experts say that there is now a particularly high demand for courses in science, technology and agriculture.
These are seen as the safest bet when it comes to finding a job after college.
But points for courses that give students a broader education -- such as arts and business -- are also on the rise.
Just last week the IDA said that 2011 was its best year for job creation in a decade but warned that the opportunities were focused on certain sectors.
And today Higher Education Authority chairman John Hennessy urged parents "to move away from the notion that secure employment is in the traditional professions such as medicine, law and teaching".
"The real opportunities for Irish graduates will be in technology, science and engineering, and students with an interest in these areas must be encouraged to pursue courses in those fields," he said.
More than 40,000 students will make their initial application to the CAO before the end of the month.
They then have the option of changing their mind and re-submitting a fresh CAO application before July 1.
The points race is also being influenced this year by changes to the system including the awarding of extra points for higher-level Maths.
Students who secure a minimum mark of a D3 in higher-level Maths will be given an extra 25 CAO points if Maths is counted among their six best subjects.
Experts also point to a fall in the number of Irish students applying to colleges in Britain where tuition charges can now be as high as £9,000 (¤10,800).
There is also a massive drop in the number of leaving certificate students opting for apprenticeships.