There has been an 18% increase in the number of students selecting agricultural science as their first-choice course at third-level, the Central Applications Office (CAO) has revealed in its 2023 application data.

Across all courses, over 78,000 applications were received by the CAO since its closing date in February.

Of this number, 408 students have applied to study agricultural science from September of this year.

Agriculture is one of a number of courses which has seen an increase in applications for the first-choice preferences.

Other increases included transport services (84%), secondary education (11%), business and administration (4%) and engineering (4%).


However, other courses have seen a decrease in popularity for first-choice consideration, including veterinary medicine and veterinary.

While the numbers looking to study veterinary medicine have fallen by 20%, numbers remain high at 865 applications and some 493, a decrease of 18% on 2022, have applied to study veterinary.

The number of applications for healthcare courses has also declined this year, with nursing and midwifery seeing a decrease of 10%, medicine applications are down 11% and other health course applications are down 7%.

Alternative admissions scheme

Meanwhile, the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) saw an increase of 1,200 from last year, with a total of 9,913 applicants indicating that they wish to be considered for the scheme.

A total of 8,624 applicants indicated that they wish to be considered for the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) - a decrease of 623 from 2022.

Final numbers for DARE and HEAR applicants will not be known until after the 15 March deadline for receipt of supporting documentation.

Change of mind

Speaking about the application figures, head of communications for CAO Eileen Keleghan commented: “The majority of CAO applicants will be permitted to use the change of mind facility when it opens on 5 May to add, remove or re-order course choices, which will result in changes to the figures released today.”

Late applications are also being accepted up to 1 May at 5pm. To apply for a course through the CAO, go to

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