This year’s CAO figures show that University College Dublin is the most popular choice of third level college for those completing their secondary school education. CAO figures also show students showing particular interest in areas such as science, cialis computing and engineering reflecting the hope of increasing job prospects in high-tech fields.

Figures reveal UCD attracted the largest number of first preference applications to the CAO this year. The University climbed to a record of 8,385 first preferences with 818 more students putting UCD first on their CAO applications. This is a rise of 10.8% from last year’s applications.

Applications for UCD courses were across the University with strong demand in areas such as medicine, economics & finance, agricultural science and computer science. Deputy President and Registrar, Professor Mark Rogers has commented that “these figures show a very positive trend toward UCD among CAO applicants’’.

The statistics show that school leavers are heeding advice from government and industry who have pointed to graduate prospects in the economy as well as displaying what Professor Rogers believes is a “more general sense of optimism for the future’’.

Interest in science degrees has seen an increase with a rise of 16% nationally. Medicine continues to be a popular choice for CAO applicants with increasing interest in courses across the health science department. Physiotherapy, which saw a fall of 5% nationally, is still a popular choice in UCD with a 5% increase in first preferences.

The resurgence of the farming and food industry within the economy is also reflected in the strong demand for agriculture courses. The number of those applying for courses in this subject area increased by 14%; showing that interest in the career path has doubled in the past five years.

One area which saw a major increase in attention is Computer Science, applications for the course in UCD has increased by 44% with 215 students choosing it as first preference on their CAO application. Head of the School of Computer Science and Informatics in University College Dublin, Mr. John Dunnion MSc, told the College Tribune that the school are “delighted with our increase in CAO first preferences’’.Dunnion believes the increase can be attributed to the promotion of courses in UCD.

There has also been a significant rise in the number of applications from those in the UK. This can be attributed to the increase in third-level fees being introduced in parts of the UK this year. UK students are now facing fees of up to £9,000 (€10,725) compared to the €2,250 fee which Irish students will be charged next September.

Figures show there have been 526 extra applications from Northern Ireland and Britain this year; this is a 27% increase in application since last year. This increasing demand from the UK may increase pressure on Irish colleges, which are already struggling to deal with growing numbers.

Sophie Kelly