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Leaving Cert students hitting the top points ceiling of 625 doubles

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Trinity College Dublin campus

Trinity College Dublin campus

Trinity College Dublin campus

One in five CAO applicants achieved at least 500 points, pushing requirements for a college place to spectacular new heights this year.

Among them were 577 students who hit the points ceiling of 625, more than double last year's figure of 207.

The release of CAO Round One offers revealed how Leaving Cert grades fuelled across-the-board points rises, despite the creation of 6,300 new college places.

This was an unprecedented 12pc increase in a single year.

Seven courses breached the 600 points mark - four in Trinity College Dublin (TCD), two in University College Dublin (UCD) and one in University College Cork (UCC).

Demand

Last year was the first time the Leaving Cert points needed for any course exceeded 600.

However, the 4.4pc grade inflation in this year's results broke new ground.

Significant points increases were recorded across a swathe of disciplines, from Medicine and other health professional courses, to Business to Law to Post-Primary Teaching, but there was comfort with some large intake Arts programmes dropping or staying relatively stable, around the 300s.

This year's points requirements would have been even higher, especially for high-demand courses, were it not for the extra college places, 2,225 of which were created in the past fortnight.

CAO made a record 53,815 offers in yesterday's Round 1, up from 51,513 last year. It included 47,162 offers for honours degree (Level 8) courses, up 4,311 on last year.

Among applicants for honours degree courses, 37,678 received their top choice, up on 24,458 in 2019.

However, although the number is up in absolute terms, the proportion receiving their first preference dipped slightly from 53pc to 52pc.

Choices

Some 80pc of Level 8 applicants received one of their top three choices, also down slightly from last year, when it was 81pc.

At Level 7/6 (ordinary degree/higher certificate), 90pc received an offer, and 98pc received one of their top three choices, comparable with last year.

However, many hard-working students were disappointed, including those achieving at the highest level, because of the stiffer competition due to the better grades.

Already students, parents and schools, particularly in the fee-paying and 'grinds' school sector, have voiced alarm over how calculated grades were awarded.

They are angry that marks awarded by teachers for calculated grades were lowered in the process to standardising results across all schools.