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Record numbers push up points for 700 courses

Record numbers of applicants have pushed up the entry points for the majority of college courses this year.

Points have risen for a massive 700 courses, and have either dropped or remained the same for the other 560.

Some of the biggest surges are in science and computing, reflecting higher demand in response to the advice that these will provide the skills for the so-called smart economy.

Medicine is much harder to get into this year than last and for the first time a nursing course hit the 500 point mark.

The rising points for medicine will renew controversy over the Health Professionals Admission Test (HPAT), which, instead of creating a more level playing pitch appears to have created new distortions.

Points for key courses in agriculture are also up this year.

But areas such as law, construction and business saw a downward drift in points in key courses because of the economic downturn.

Among the 851 Level 8 "honours" degree courses, 462 saw an increase in points, while the points fell in 216 and remained the same for 61.

The three Dublin universities all reported more point increases than decreases as did NUIs Galway and Maynooth. However, the position was reversed in the two Munster universities with a decline in points for many courses in UCC and the University of Limerick.



Popularity

Points for degrees at UCD have almost universally increased in 2010 reflecting not just the growth in the number of CAO applicants nationally but the first preference popularity of UCD degrees.

NUI Maynooth assistant registrar John McGinnity said the Co Kildare university recorded its highest ever number of applicants this year.

"There has been strong demand for degrees in science, biotechnology and pharmaceutical and biomedical chemistry," said Mr McGinnity, who added that the university was increasing the number of places made available to students by 6pc this year."

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is also responding to the challenge of the country's economic circumstances by increasing in the number of offers available to students.

WIT registrar Dr Derek O'Byrne said it expected more than 2,200 students to enrol in WIT next month.

"We are offering two new programmes for first year entry, in sustainable engineering and business with Irish, which also increases opportunities in critical areas of employment and future skills needs," he added.

Analysis shows that of the 428 Level 7/6 courses, 233 saw a points increase, while the points fell in 93, and remained the same for 50

While some CAO applicants will be disappointed this year in the light of points increases in hundreds of courses, there were never so many offers.