This morning, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) announced the addition of 2,225 places in universities and colleges that are expected to be offered through the CAO at 2pm today.
At the beginning of the month, government announced the addition of 1,250 higher education places will be offered on certain high-demand courses.
The announcement came after details emerged that the Leaving Certificate results given to students this year that came through the calculated grades system were the highest on record, with an increase of 4.4% on last year.
In a press release this morning, HEA stated that: “Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early March, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has been working closely with Irish higher education institutions (HEIs) and their sectoral representative bodies (IUA, THEA) to both respond to immediate challenges of Covid-19 and to plan for the future.”
They continued: “In recent days, at the request of the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D., the HEA has been working to identify any additional capacity that could be made available given the current circumstances.”
“A mechanism was agreed which provided flexibility to higher education institutions to expand courses where they were experiencing high demand,” the press release explained. “This has resulted in 2,225 additional places being made available to incoming students.”
Details of these 2,225 additional places are to be released later today.
Leaving Certificate students received their calculated grades results on Monday, following the cancellation of the Leaving Certificate in May due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Despite high scores, concerns remain. Students who sat the Leaving Certificate last year and deferred their college places for one year are worried that the increase in high level grades will increase CAO points for high demand courses, meaning students who potentially had the results for their desired course last year may lose out on their position this year.
Students have also expressed concern that with higher grades on average, CAO points will inevitably rise alongside the higher results.
In the original plan to add 1,250 places to higher education courses, oversubscribed courses including nursing, law and medicine could see an increase of 5%.
In Trinity, incoming first year students are to start lectures on October 5, with Freshers’ Week beginning on September 28. Teaching for returning students resumes alongside Freshers’ Week.