Many things about Ireland bemuse visitors to our shores. Two of the most difficult to explain are our electoral system and the programme by which third level places are allocated. I’ll leave the former to other election anoraks for the time being, but the latter is much in the news this week, so I’ll try to give a simple account of how it works.
The Central Applications Office (logo, above left) processes all applications to first year undergraduate courses in the country’s various third level institutions. In early summer, students at the end of their secondary (high) school careers sit a state examination, and the results are published in early August. During the course of that final year, most of the students will have filled in a list of their preferred third level courses and returned it to the CAO. In mid-August, the CAO assign university places to students based on their exam results.
Allocation of places is simply a function of demand and supply. A third level institution will inform the CAO of the number of places in a given course, and the CAO’s computer will allot places on the course to the highest qualified applicants who had applied for that course. The grades of the last-admitted candidate can be regarded as the cut-off for qualification for entry to that course.
In the final state exam, each letter grade is assigned a level of points (eg, an A1 is worth 100 points, a C3 is worth 60 points, etc). The CAO takes each candidate’s best 6 grades to calculate the points total of each candidate (eg, a candidate who got six A1s is will have 600 points, a candidate who got six C3s will have 360 points, etc). Hence, the grades of the last-admitted candidate on a course can be represented in terms of these points, and the entry requirement for any given third-level course in any given year can be represented in terms of points.
Scaled up across every applicant for every third-level course, it is clear that the CAO system is a significant undertaking. This year, the first round of offers of places in third level institutions was made yesterday, and the cut-off points levels for their various law degree offerings are below the jump. (Update: I’ve blogged about the second round final points here).
University College Dublin
DN009 Law (BCL) 480*
DN021 Business and Law 485
DN028 BCL Maîtrise 530
DN029 Law with French Law (BCL) 545
DN060 Law with History 510
DN065 Law with Politics 510
DN066 Law with Philosophy 515
DN067 Law with Economics 510
LC231 Law and Taxation 300
MH101 Arts 375 (Law within Arts: Law can be studied with other Arts subjects in first year, and students fulfilling the necessary criteria can transfer to one of the law degrees)
MH115 Law (BCL) and Arts 450
MH406 Law and Business 450
Other law courses administered through the CAO include:
LY207 Law 145
WD013 Legal Studies 270
This list follows the order provided by the CAO. The asterisk * means that not all on this points score were offered places, whilst AQA means all qualified applicants were offered places.