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Third Level Education

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 3 March 2021

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Ceisteanna (628, 644)

Matt Shanahan

Ceist:

628. Deputy Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the steps being taken to increase the places available for sought after third-level courses such as medicine; the level of deferred student results being carried over from 2020 to 2021 CAO applications; the way an increase in applications for available course placements is being planned for (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11152/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

644. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if the offers given out after results were issued to students who sat the leaving certificate exams in November 2020 constituted additional places in these third-level institutions; and if not, if they were within the general number of places available for entry in September 2021. [11947/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 628 and 644 together.

I am conscious of the impact that Covid-19 has had on the leaving certificate class of 2021, and will take action as necessary to ensure that a full range of further and higher education options are available to them.

According to figures released by the CAO a total of 632 offers were identified as a result of the 2020 Leaving Certificate Written Examination. In the 2020 CAO application cycle a total of 96,426 offers were made to 63,858 candidates. If the same number of offers is made this year then the 632 offers made to the November Leaving Certificate candidates will represent less than 1% of the offers made.

I am aware of the high number of CAO applications this year, and my officials are engaging regularly with representatives from the higher education sector in relation to the 2021/22 academic year and demand for places. Information will become available next month on the types of applicants in the current year, and the courses they are choosing which will assist us in planning for the current year.

My officials have spoken with representatives from the higher education sector regarding any changes to the deferral or non-progression rate among students in this year compared to previous years. Deferrals are granted at the discretion of the Higher Education Institutions and the sector has indicated that there was no significant increase or decrease in the number of deferrals in 2020 in comparison to previous years.

Funding was provided in Budget 2021 to both sustain additional undergraduate places and address demographic growth pressures. These places are in addition to the 1,330 additional places commencing in 2021, funded through the Human Capital Initiative Pillar 2, which will be on undergraduate courses in areas of identified skills needs.

I know how difficult a time it has been for students and parents, and my Department will continue to closely assess demand for higher education places and take action as necessary to ensure that this year's Leaving Certificate students have a range of pathways into further and higher education.

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