Comment & Analysis
Sep 11, 2020

This Year’s CAO Results Were – Predictably – Like No Other Year’s

Aoife Kearins examines the highlights of today’s historic CAO results.

Aoife KearinsAssistant Editor
Sinéad Baker for The University Times

CAO offers time is usually an enjoyable one for everyone not personally affected by the process in any given year. It gives politicians a chance to appear on local radio stations, college students the opportunity to let out a sigh of relief that they’ve been there, done that, and almost certainly fake Twitter accounts to orate about how they received just thirty seven points and are now CEO of a Fortune 500 company or host of a late-night radio show or a washed-up nobody with an anonymous twitter account.

However, for the leaving certificate students and third-level institutions, CAO season can only be described as an ordeal. Given the tumultuous nature of this year’s leaving certificate – or lack thereof – students were no doubt relieved to finally be reaching the end of a saga that has been twisting and turning since March.

Although College can breathe a sigh of relief – with points rising for 80 per cent of courses, Trinity comes out of this looking very well – it’s a different story for many leaving certificate students, with the required number of points needed to enter some courses reaching dizzying heights.


Up, Up and Away

In a trend echoed in third-level institutions all over the country, the vast majority of courses in Trinity have undergone an increase in points, and in many cases a significant one. From law to computer science, business to arts, health sciences to languages, virtually no field has escaped the impact of increased points. Some significant increases included a 52-point jump for Early and Modern Irish, a 43-point rise increase for computer science and a 51-point rise for business and Polish. Philosophy, political science, economics and sociology jumped 23 points to 589, pharmacy rose 45 points to 590, mental health nursing increased to 408 and geography and geosciences went up to 473. The extra places in third-level announced by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris over the past two weeks seem to have done little to combat the massive grade inflation seen across the board.

First Come, First Served

The number of courses at Trinity requiring more than 600 points has increased to five, including dental science, law and political science, law and business, management science and information system studies (MSISS) and medicine, a huge increase from just one course, medicine, requiring above 600 last year. However, even more notably, both MSISS and dental science were 613* points – meaning that not everyone who achieved 613 points was offered a place. Students who applied for these courses therefore had to have achieved the maximum of 625 points in order to be guaranteed a spot, a requirement that has not been seen in CAO offers before.

You Do The Maths

Perhaps this year’s points may finally lead the government to reconsider the highly controversial bonus 25 points for students who pass higher level mathematics. Both law and business and law and political science – courses with arguably negligible mathematics content – required 602 points this year, meaning that students who did not do higher-level mathematics would not be eligible for an offer, even if they received top grades in the rest of their subjects.

Another Day, Another Drama

In a move that can only be described as surprising, intriguing and sure to disappoint parents nationwide, Trinity’s Drama and Theatre studies course has jumped to 564, up 69 points from last year’s first-round offer of 495. Whether this is due to the desire for escapism as a result of the coronavirus pandemic or the incorrect belief that this is the course that Paul Mescal of Normal People did, there are a number of factors that could have contributed to this course experiencing the highest rise in points of any course in Trinity. Maybe it’s worth mentioning that with just 17 places, the small nature of the course means it’s more susceptible to extreme increases in points.

From The Top, Make It Drop

The course that has seen the highest drop in points was Ancient and Medieval History, which dropped a 57 points from 399 to 342. Deaf studies dropped 17 points, mathematics dropped 35 points, English studies dropped 10 points and physical sciences decreased by 12 points. However, by and large very few courses dropped at all, with just ten single honours courses experiencing a decrease in required points and only two remaining the same as last year. Although this was expected following the release of leaving certificate results earlier this week, it is sure to be a harsh blow to many leaving certificate students who were on the borderline of the points required last year.

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