Dramatic fall in CAO applications for Ag Science this year

The number of applications to level 8 agricultural science courses for the 2016/17 year has dropped by 26% on the previous year, figures obtained by Agriland from the Central Applications Office (CAO) show.

This year, some 483 students have put agriculture top of their first preference list for level 8 courses, compared to 657 last year, according to the figures.

Further, the number of students applying to level 8 courses this year, with agriculture on their CAO application is down 26% from 2,328 to 3,163.

For level 7/6 ag science courses, application numbers are also down. Some 528 applicants have put agriculture down as a first preference, compared to 735 last year – a drop of 28%.

Like the level 8 applications, total preferences for agriculture courses at level 7/6 are also down, this time by 26%.

Some 1,677 applications were received by the CAO this year for the courses, compared to 2,259 in 2015, the figures show.

Meanwhile, CAO applications to veterinary medicine courses remain almost unchanged on last year, with 555 first-preference applications to the courses this year.

This compares to 583 applications in 2015. Overall, total preferences for veterinary medicine stood at 835 for 2016, down two applicants on last year.

Overall, CAO applications for 2016 are up slightly on 2015 levels, with 415,894 applications to all level 8 courses compared to 413,894 last year.

College course points are driven by demand, so an increase in students applying to go to third level may drive up the points for some courses.

Ag science courses have become hugely popular in recent years with points for agriculture in UCD standing at 470 points in 2015.

The points required for entry into the UCD agricultural science course have increased by almost 50% over the past eight years – 315 points in the 2007 Leaving Certificate would have secured you a place, but you’d have needed 470 last year.

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) also offers a level 8 agricultural science course and last year points for the course were 415.