The number of early applications to the CAO for college entry has grown by over 5,000 in comparison to January 2020. Today marked the deadline for the submission of CAO applications from students across the country who hope to continue to third-level education.

However, according to the Central Applications Office, there was a significant increase in the number of students submitting their application by the earlier deadline of January 20th.

The CAO follows a protocol whereby applicants pay a fee of €45 to submit their initial application. However, the applicants are also given the option of having €15 deducted from that fee if they choose to apply by January 20th. Although the standard deadline for applications is February 1st, 66,457 had applied by 5 pm on January 20th while 61,387 had applied at the same time twelve months previously. 

The surge in applications could be partly attributed to those who sat the postponed Leaving Certificate examinations last November in an attempt to maximise their points. The majority of candidates who chose to take part in the delayed exams only sat two or three subjects and planned to combine their written results with their remaining calculated grades.

In recent years, the proportion of mature students reapplying to the CAO has dropped due to the high level of activity in the employment market. But now they are considered to be part of the surge as COVID-19 has decimated a number of industries and many people may need new qualifications to find work in a post-pandemic society.

The additional applicants will undoubtedly increase the points required for entry to certain courses. However, the Government has assured students sitting their exams this summer that extra college places will be given to accommodate the inflationary impact of the predicted grades from last year.

Caolan Dooley – Reporter
Emma Hanrahan – Assistant News Editor