CAO Application Trends 2017

  • Education courses are always popular, however they show a decrease of 2% over all this year – down 379 from 19,242 in 2016 to 18,863 applications, and down 2% in first preferences. This is despite guaranteed demand in this sector with projected upward population increases, perhaps reflecting the unrest in the sector that students may have seen this year.
  • There is also a sizeable decrease in demand for Level 8 Nursing courses, again despite the ongoing and much publicised shortage of nurses and despite the fact that the 2017 application figures now include mature entrants under the same course codes. First preferences are down 10% (579) with the overall total down from 39,252 in 2016 to 35,896 this year. This follows the huge increase seen last year when the message about nursing shortages seemed to be hitting home.
  • Despite the emphasis on skills shortages and the need for talent in the areas of Engineering and Technology, it is disappointing to see that courses are showing a 7% decrease overall (down 2,775 from 37,625 in 2016 to 34,850 this year) and a 5% decerease in first preferences. Given that significant skills shortages in these areas are predicted for the years ahead, it is not good news.
  • Arts and Social Science, always the largest category in terms of demand for places with 83,406 applications, its down 239 on the 83,645 applications in last year numbers and just 53 on first preferences.


Agriculture & Horticulture, Law and Construction are up

  • The biggest percentage increase this year, although small in numbers, is Agriculture & Horticulture showing an 18% increase in demand for Level 8 courses, up from 1,990 in 2016, to 2,355 in 2017.
  • Demand for Level 8 courses in the Built Environment is also up, showing a 17% increase from 2,216 in 2016 to 2,599 in 2017. Architecture too is up by 7% – from 708 first preferences in 2016, reflecting continued confidence in property sector careers. 
  • Total applications for Medicine are up by only 12 (0%) while Pharmacy is down 7% (from 1,942 to 1,812), giving those applicants with sufficient points and meeting the entry requirements a good chance of securing a place this year based on the number of places available.
  • Dentistry is up (from 1,085 to 1,128 overall) and 5% on first preferences. Level 8 Applications to Physiotherapy are down 2% overall from 3,457 in 2016 to 3,371 this year and 4% on first preferences.
  • There is a further increase in application numbers for Science, up from 53,355 last year to 53,787 overall this year, with a 4% increase in first preferences, reflecting a steady stream of success in attracting students into this area.
  • Administration and Business is up yet again from 60,604 applications to 61,273 of which 11,021 are first preferences this year (2%) –  a continued rise year on year.
  • Law applications are also up again this year from 13,622 applications in 2017 to 14,509 in 2017, showing a 9% increase in first preferences.
  • Art and Design courses are up by 206 (2%), from 8,626  to 8,832 – this category includes Media and Television, Animation and Digital Design courses.

Level 6 and 7 applications

Level 6 and 7 application numbers are down across the board with the exception once again of Architecture.

Overall, there are 6,146 (5%) less applicants registering an interest at this early stage for Level 6/7 courses. Given the fantastic FE/QQI Progression routes now available, this is likely to shift by the July CAO Deadline as students continue to modify their CAO applications and become more aware of the available options as they do more course research.


Overall 2017 CAO data shows:

  • An increase in Level 8 applications (Up 264 from 65,030 in 2016 to 65, 294 in 2017)
  • A decrease in Level 6/7 applications (Down 540 from 34,885 in 2016 to 34,345 in 2017). This may indicate a tendency by CAO applicants to delay filling in their Level 6/7 options until a later stage in the process.
This entry was posted in Academic, Guidance & Counselling, Parents. Bookmark the permalink.