Which subjects showed a major decline in CAO applications for 2018?

9 Mar 2018

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The points required for a number of once-popular CAO subjects are expected to drop after an overall decline in applications.

Those expected to enter the CAO application system this year will face a rather different one to those who applied last year as new figures show that there has been a major decline in the number of applications.

According to The Irish Times, there has been an overall decline in applications by 4.5pc, but some once-popular subjects have shown an even sharper decline.

A total of 72,643 applications were submitted to the CAO by this year’s closing date in February, marking a year-on-year decline of 3,443.

However, the final figures will only be determined when all late and ‘change of mind’ applications are received by 1 July.

Most notably from a STEM perspective, the biggest subject decline overall is physical sciences, which showed a decline of 36pc when compared to 2017.

Also, applications for information and communication technology courses dropped by 16pc year on year, with a decline also seen in environment (15pc), manufacturing and processing (11pc) and veterinary (9pc).

Other degrees showed a sharper decline, some of the biggest being transport services (50pc), forestry (37pc), journalism (26pc) and arts (13pc).

Meanwhile, relatively small increases were seen in subjects such as biology (10pc), engineering (6pc), arts (15pc) and education (4pc).

Why the decline?

Possible reasons for the notable decline include the fact that there was a major drop in the number of mature applicants on the year before, as more older students are finding better employment options in an economy that is showing an upturn again.

Brexit has also had a major effect in driving down the number of applications from Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole.

Demographic analysis of the decline shows that the number of applicants from disadvantaged communities fell by 9pc to 1,023, possibly due to an increase in the number of apprenticeships in the labour workforce being made available.

While the figures should worry those advocating for an increase in participation in STEM subjects in Ireland, the Government has welcomed the news that there was an increase in those looking to go into teaching, with Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, TD, saying it showed it was a “very attractive career option”.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic