There has been a drop in the number of Central Applications Office (CAO) points required to study agricultural science at third-level for the 2022 academic year.

Points to study at University College Dublin (UCD) fell from 454 last year to 400 this year.

Munster Technological University’s (MTU) ag science programme requires 307 points, while University College Cork (UCC) points also dropped a good bit, from 506 points to 487.

The drop in points could be as a result of lower demand for agricultural courses, as was discovered earlier this year when the CAO released its applications data, but equally the number of points directly correlates to the number of places available at any given institution (this may be why UCD’s ag science programme is 400 points, as it can accommodate more students).

MTU, which was established in January 2021, has joined Technological University Dublin (TUD) on the CAO list, taking on the points normally attributed to Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT).

The newer technological universities (Atlantic Technological University (ATT), Technological University of the Shannon and South East Technological University (TUS)) remain represented by their legacy IT institutions.

Points released

On Thursday, the CAO points were released for all courses across colleges and universities in Ireland, with eager students throughout the country checking online for their first round offers.

As of 2pm on 8 September, 85,894 round one offers had been issued by the CAO to 57,296 prospective students.

Of these, 51,807 offers are for Level 8 courses, while 34,087 offers are for either Level 6 or Level 7 courses.

Of the Level 8 offers, 52% are for the applicants’ first preference, while 82% are within the applicants’ top three choices.

Of the Level 6 and 7 course offers, 89% are for first preference, while 98% are within the applicants’ top three.

Besides being able to check their offers online at, successful applicants will also have been notified via text or email, if they selected this option on their CAO application form.

Order of preference

In a statement, CAO’s head of communications Eileen Keleghan says one of the most common queries she receives after round one offers are released is around order of preference.

“Applicants who receive a lower preference offer can accept this offer and it will not prevent them from receiving an offer of a course higher up on their courses list in a later round should a place become available and they are deemed eligible.”


Grade inflation, which is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was brought on by the changes made to the Leaving Cert earlier this year. Students were given fewer questions to answer in their Leaving Cert and were also given more time to respond to them. This was due to the disruption the pandemic caused to their education.

Many courses traditionally high in points are assumed to have been filled via lottery as so many students have achieved high scores.

This includes UCD’s Level 8 veterinary programme, which required 601 points (which is no change from 2021, though again, not all applicants with these points were successful). It is thought the veterinary course has been completely filled via the lottery system.

Minister for Education Norma Foley stated last week that next year’s Leaving Cert students will have adjustments made to their assessments, but has assured students that there will be no “cliff edge” in terms of grade inflation.

She spoke during a visit to Killarney Community College and maintains that the assessments for student sitting state examinations in 2023 will be similar to those announced by the Government in August 2021.

Next steps

Students in receipt of round one offers have until Wednesday 14 September to accept their offers. If they haven’t received an offer, they should still have received a 'statement of application' email.

If they haven’t received any offers and feel a mistake has been made, students are urged to contact the CAO immediately, as any errors could affect offers in subsequent rounds.

In correspondence with Irish Country Living, Eileen Keleghan says that for students who did not receive their first choice but have received a lower preference offer, they should consider this carefully, as it may be the only offer they receive.

“Accepting a lower preference offer in round one will not prevent an applicant from receiving a higher preference offer in a later round if a place becomes available and they are deemed eligible,” she writes.

“If an applicant does not receive any offer in round one, they should check their account information carefully to ensure that there are no errors or omissions which may have resulted in them missing out on an offer.

"If the applicant notices an error, they must update their account information by the dates specified on the CAO website in order to be considered for subsequent rounds.

“For all other applicants, it is important to remember that there are a number of options and, where possible, they should consult with their guidance counsellor,” she adds.

“There may be an offer in a later round or a course of interest may become available on the available places facility. There are also a wide range of further education courses to consider which can provide pathways into higher education.”

Round two

Round two offers will be live on the CAO website from 10am on 19 September.

Read more

CAO 2021: points jump for some agriculture courses

Everything you need to know about your CAO offer