CAO numbers reveal drop in interest in agricultural courses

The Central Applications Office (CAO) has revealed the number of applications received for third-level agricultural and veterinary courses in Ireland.

This year’s interest is relatively mixed – while interest in agricultural courses has decreased this year compared to last, interest in veterinary courses is mainly positive.

One of the most significant differences this year is the 5% decrease in applicants opting for a Level 8 agricultural course as their first preference. There were 24 less applicants in 2020, bringing the figure down from 471 in 2019 to 447 in 2020.

There was a decrease of 2% in applicants mentioning an agricultural course further down their list, with this year’s number standing at 2,344 compared to 2,395 last year.

There was also less interest in Level 7/6 agricultural courses, with a 3% decrease in first preferences and a 5% decrease in total mentions.

Veterinary figures positive

The numbers for Level 8 veterinary courses are more positive, seeing an increase of 78 applicants putting a veterinary course on the top of their list, bringing last year’s figure from 886 to 946 this year, an increase of 9%.

There was also a 14% climb in the number of applicants mentioning Level 8 veterinary courses on their application, seeing a total of 1,985 applicants compared to 1,735 last year – a jump of 250 people interested in veterinary.

There was a similar hike of interest in Level 7/6 courses, with the total number of first preferences up 8% from last year and total mentions up 13%.

Interdisciplinary programme interest is mixed

There was a decrease of 9% in first preferences for Level 8 interdisciplinary programmes and qualifications involving agriculture, forestry and veterinary, seeing 45 less people putting a related course on the top of their list, which drops last year’s figure from 479 to 434 this year.

The number of applicants who put one of these courses further down their list of Level 8 preferences remained relatively the same, with only two less people than last year.

The number of applicants who chose an interdisciplinary course as their Level 7/6 first preference remained the same as last year, at 84.

Continuing the positivity, there was an increase of 8% in total mentions of these courses by applicants on Level 7/6 applications, bringing the figure from 293 in 2019 to 315 this year.

The differences in CAO first preferences in 2019 compared to 2020 are:
  • Agricultural courses (Level 8): 471 to 447 (decrease of 5%);
  • Agricultural courses (Level 7/6): 774 to 747 (decrease of 3%);
  • Veterinary courses (Level 8): 886 to 964 (increase of 9%);
  • Veterinary courses (Level 7/6): 992 to 1,073 (increase of 8%);
  • Interdisciplinary courses (Level 8): 479 to 434 (decrease of 9%);
  • Interdisciplinary courses (Level 7/6): The same figure of 84.

There was a total number of 77,831 CAO applicants this year compared to 77,415 last year, an increase of 416 people.

It it yet to be announced when CAO round one offers for Leaving Certificate students will be out, while offers for mature, deferred and access applicants will be available from Saturday, July 18, and offers for people in these categories who are not awaiting 2020 examination results will be made on Saturday, August 8.

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