There was a 13% increase in Central Applications Office (CAO) applicants putting agriculture-related courses as their Level 8 first preference.

The CAO has released its 2021 application data up to the ‘Change of Course Choices’ closing date of March 1.

The data shows applications by course classification, course level and by applicant address.

Increases from last year

79,176 applications were received by the CAO by the February 1 closing date – an increase of 6,203 applicants on the previous year.

There was a total of 8,727 applications from applicants over 23 years-of-age – up 1,454 (20%) applications from 2020.

7,839 applicants indicated that they wish to be considered for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) – an increase of 587 from last year.

A total of 10,016 applicants indicated that they wish to be considered for the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) – a decrease of 1,050 from 2020.

Agriculture-related courses

422 applicants put an agriculture-related course as their Level 8 first preference in 2021; compared to 372 in 2020. 2,359 applicants mentioned an agricultural course in their CAO list, a jump from 1,769 last year.

For Level 8 veterinary courses, there was also a 16% increase in first preferences, from 902 in 2020 to 1,050 in 2021. Total mentions this year were 2,251, compared to 1,726 in 2020. 

For veterinary medicine, there was a 10% increase in first preferences, from 547 in 2020 to 604 in 2021.

For interdisciplinary programmes and qualifications involving agriculture, forestry and veterinary, the number of first preferences increased by 21%, from 281 in 2020 to 460 this year.

With Level 6/7, agriculture-related courses as first preferences increased by 28% between this year and last, from 556 to 712. The number of mentions increased by 39%, from 1,455 last year to 2,016 this year.

Veterinary courses also saw an increase in first preferences, of 25%. However, interdisciplinary programmes and qualifications involving agriculture, forestry and veterinary saw a decrease of 37% in first preferences and a decrease of 36% in total mentions.

46 applicants ranked one of these courses as their first preference, compared to 73 last year, while 154 mentioned a related course in their list, compared to 239 last year.

Data subject to change

The data provided at this stage is interim data and is subject to change when late applications are taken into account and when the ‘Change of Mind’ facility closes on July 1.

Speaking about the application figures, communications officer for the CAO, Eileen Keleghan, commented:

The majority of CAO applicants will be permitted to use the Change of Mind facility when it opens on May 5 to add, remove or re-order course choices, which will result in changes to the figures released today [Tuesday, March 9].

“Late applications are also being accepted up to May 1.”