What will the CAO score requirements look like in 2022?

Last year saw a significant increase in application numbers to the CAO, as approximately 85,000 people sought a place in an undergraduate course at one of Ireland’s more than 40 third-tier institutions.

Half of the more than 5,000 additional applicants are from a demographic increase in the number of students at our second tier schools, a trend that will continue for many years to come.

The other half came from EU-based applicants who searched for Ireland and its third-tier universities, which had dropped out of UK universities after Brexit, due to the imposition of international fees of £30,000–40,000 a year.

Many speculated that due to our late offer season – September – applicants from the EU would not accept offers. However, over 850 did and they are the first wave of what I believe will be the growing integration of Ireland’s third tier sector into the wider continental EU education family.

It is not one-way traffic by any means. Around 1,000 Irish students will begin their undergraduate degree studies in the Netherlands in 2021, a trend that has been growing strongly for almost 10 years now.

Compare Ireland’s growing attractiveness to young Europeans English-speaking EU countries, to begin their studies here in 2021, compared with 196 students traveling south from Northern Ireland and 97 students crossing the waters from the UK.

By next July when we see final application numbers, will we see 90,000 applicants looking for 45,000 places on offer?

The 45,000 figure is projected to fund an additional 2,500 locations on top of the 2021 capacity. As in previous years, I expect 50,000 of the 60,000 leaving certificate class by 2022 to seek a place through CAO.