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Posted 10 March 2014

UCD climbs to 9,219 CAO first preferences

Science and Computer Science continue to grow in popularity while Business and Law degrees make a resurgence.

CAO statistics just released show an increase of 8.4% in first preferences for UCD.  Compared with a national increase of 3% in the number of applicants for Level 8 degrees, this rise demonstrates UCD’s continued popularity as Ireland’s university of first choice.  Since UCD introduced Horizons, its modular curriculum, in 2005, first preferences have risen by 35%.

Since 2009, UCD has been gradually reducing the number of CAO entry codes from 84 to 45 for 2014.  This practice lets students enter through a single degree area – such as engineering, Arts, law or science and specialise into areas such as electrical engineering, politics, law and history, or biochemistry at a later stage when the students have more experience and knowledge of their subjects.

Commenting on the CAO first preferences, the Registrar and Deputy President of UCD, Professor Mark Rogers said:

“As we moved towards broader entry routes with pathways to specialisation later in those degrees, students have responded very positively.   The reduction in the number of CAO entry codes is seen as fair and progressive.

We have also invested considerably in our undergraduate teaching.  Learning at university is very different to the school experience and we help students to make this transition through specific supports in first year.  I feel that this emphasis on quality has had an impact on our first preferences.”



Last year 631 students gave Science (DN200) at UCD their first preference.  This was an increase of 23% on 2012.  This year, numbers continue to climb and first preferences have reached a record 775, an increase of 23% again.  Numbers have been increasing by these proportions for the past five years and this year’s students get the added bonus of new science facilities with the opening of the UCD O’Brien Centre for Science.

Nationally, Science first preferences rose by 1%, due in some part to a re categorisation of some courses under Technology.

Engineering and Technology

Another discipline where the number of entry routes was reduced (in 2010 from 7 to 1) is Engineering (DN150) and first preferences here have been increasing for the past five years.
Computer Science (DN201) also continues to show significant growth with first preferences up 37% over 2013.


Law and Business

Across the board, law and business degrees at UCD climbed significantly by 17% in total in 2013.  Over 1,300 students chose from the seven CAO entry routes to these degrees.  The national figures separate these two disciplines and show a growth of 4% and 6% respectively.

First preferences for Law (DN600) at UCD rose by 18% in 2014.  Under this entry code, students can pursue streams for the BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law) and Law with Economics, History, Philosophy, Social Justice and Politics.

Commerce (DN650) also saw strong growth of almost 22% in first preferences.  Commerce International (DN660) rose by 17% and the long-established BBL (DN610) grew by 11%.  Economics & Finance (DN671) grew by 46%.


Arts and Social Science

The BA at UCD (DN500) is the largest single entry degree course in Ireland and consequently can have an enormously wide variation in the Leaving Cert points among its students.  Last year points were 340.  After several years of flat or declining numbers, the number of first preferences for the BA rose by over 8% in 2014.  There are a further nine denominated BA entry codes, reduced from twelve in 2013 as the BA with French, German and Spanish entry codes were merged into the BA International.

Psychology (DN519) continues to be highly sought-after and first preferences grew by 9% this year.

Applications for Social Science (DN550) remain steady, attracting over 200 first preferences.

Nationally, Arts and Social Science grew by just 1% this year.



After a number of years of decline nationally, interest in architecture has improved this year with an increase of 13%.  UCD’s figures reflect this national trend and account for one third of all architecture applications.


Health Sciences

These degrees include Human Medicine, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Radiography and other health care sciences. 
Nationally, nursing fell by 5% and at UCD there was a similar fall from Leaving Certificate applicants and a slightly lower fall among mature applicants.

Medicine fell nationally by 6% and by 3% at UCD.

Radiography remained steady and Physiotherapy increased to regain some of the decline experienced in 2013. 


Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine

Agriculture degrees have experienced growth for the past number of years and overall this trend continues.  The UCD general entry route (DN250) increased by 4% for 2014.   Human Nutrition remains static and Food Science grew by 36%.
First preferences for Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Nursing both increased slightly.

CAO codes for UCD:  45 for all applicant categories.  There are also 4 restricted codes for mature applicants for nursing, 1 each for graduate entry to medicine and to veterinary medicine and 1 for part-time applicants for the BA.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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