The story of CAO 2017 is that points have gone down right across the board. Overall, the number of CAO points has dropped for more than half of all honours degree programmes at Irish colleges and agriculture has been caught up in the middle of this.

Points dropped for 65% of 20 courses that specifically focus on agriculture and agricultural science. Points for 5% of these courses remained the same, while points for 30% of them increased.

However, even where the courses did increase in points, they went up by very little – sometimes by just one or two points. For example, IT Tralee’s Level 8 Agricultural Science course has seen a one point increase, from 345 points to 346. GMIT’s Level 8 in Agriculture and Environmental Management course (much of which is run at Mountbellew) rose from 300 points to 302. One agricultural programme that has bucked the trend is Dairy Business in UCD which increased from 440 points to 451.

The course which has long been held as the barometer for measuring interest in agriculture in this country is Agricultural Science in UCD and this programme dropped five points this year – from 460 to 455. For nine consecutive years, points had steadily increased for this programme from 315 in 2007 to 470 in 2015. Last year was the first time since 2007 that points dropped – they decreased from 470 to 460 and this is now the second consecutive year for the points to drop.

Waterford IT’s Level 8 Agricultural Science programme has also dropped in points this year (from 400 to 389), representing the fourth year in a row for a points decrease. Points for the Level 7 Agriculture programme at WIT have dropped 21 points to 349 this year.

The downward trend being seen in agriculture programmes is being reflected in food and nutrition courses too – except even more so. 77% of 22 food and nutrition courses are down in points, while 23% have increased in points. However, two of the five courses that have increased in points have seen just a bare increase.

Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship in University College Cork is up one point to 441, while International Development and Food Policy at the same college is up three points to 378. The ever popular Human Nutrition and Dietetics at DIT increased from 545 points to 554.

Three out of four Home Economics teaching programmes at St Angela’s College in Sligo increased in points.

Horticulture and Forestry

There has been some significant increases in Level 8 Forestry and Horticulture programmes at UCD. Last year all qualified applicants (denoted on CAO points list by “AQA”) received places in Forestry in UCD, but this year 314 points were required.

On UCD’s Level 8 Landscape Architecture programme last year, all qualified applicants received places, but this year 348 points are required.

Veterinary Nursing

UCD is home to the only Level 8 veterinary nursing course in the country and this year points for the programme increased but only just slightly – from 465 to 467.

The Level 7 programme at DkIT has also increased in points, from 390 last year to 400*. Veterinary Nursing in Letterkenny IT has dropped slightly from 360* to 358, while there has been a more significant drop for Athlone IT’s Level 7 programme which dropped from 410 to 401.