Due to the effects of the pandemic on the college entry process, the number of places offered to students in the college entry process will increase by 3,000 this year, with the total number of places now rising about 50,000.
These extra places will be added to the additional 2,225 places offered by higher education colleges last autumn.
Along with the 3,000 extra places being offered to students, it has been announced that an additional 4,000 places will be made available in order to accommodate rising school-leaver numbers.
Following the announcement of these additional places, the CAO has received a record number of 79,176 applications already, with this figure expected to rise even more by the final May 1 deadline.
The demand for places on high point courses is expected to rise even more this year, particularly in the area of health science.
In Trinity alone, there has been a 38% increase in first preference applications, with the demand in courses in University College Dublin rising steadily too.
This year, Leaving Certificate students have the opportunity to receive accredited grades given to them by their teachers instead of sitting the actual exams this June; students have also been given the choice to do both forms of assessments which seems to be the most popular choice among sixth year students.
Last year, the Calculated Grades resulted in a higher increase of points needed for certain courses, like the health sciences.
Today, the Candidate Self Service Portal reopens to students, allowing them to re-confirm their choice regarding the form of assessment they will opt for this June as well as their subject level. To help students with this process, a guide has been published on gov.ie/Leaving Certificate.
These additional places may even rise in the next few weeks thanks to the research being carried out by a working group established by Higher and Further Education Minister, Simon Harris.
Over the coming weeks, this group will identify spare capacity in higher education and determine whether or not extra places can be made available based on existing resources or if more resources will have to be made available.