Pressure of Points Race Needs to be Addressed

Posted on: 20 August 2012


Points for many degree courses at Trinity College Dublin have risen significantly in 2012 reaffirming the continuing popularity of Trinity as a first preference destination for students.  Approximately 3,297 places are being offered to prospective undergraduate students to study at Trinity this year.   The increase in points reflects the growth in the number of CAO applicants, the quality of Trinity courses, and the international standing of the university; but also the effects of the bonus points on offer for students who count higher level Mathematics as one of their six subjects.

Commenting on the increase, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast, said:

“The staff of Trinity are delighted that the demand for the kind of quality education we provide continues to grow.   However, while we are delighted to see so many students aspire to study at Trinity, we do note that the pressures  created by the current points system raises challenges to equity of access that we are determined to address by finding better ways of admitting students with the ability and potential to thrive academically.”  Trinity held a major one-day international conference on reforming the admissions system in May 2012 and plans to bring forward proposals for a pilot scheme – which will seek to admit students using a number of different assessments – in the new academic year, as it works to reform the system which we believe is too narrow a gate through which to admit students, with a view to easing the growing pressure on future applicants.

Congratulating all prospective undergraduate students today on receiving a CAO offer to study in Trinity or other third level institutions, Dr Prendergast advised:

“Make use of this opportunity to grow, not just academically but personally as well. Be demanding in the standards that you set yourself and that you expect from us in the quality of our teaching and our overall educational experience. I look forward to addressing the incoming 2012 class in Freshers’ Week.”

The overall trends for TCD degree courses show increases with points for the omnibus Engineering Course (with the new Bioengineering degree option) up 55, from 410 to 465.  Computer Science has seen a significant hike, up 65 points to 450, while points for the very popular Business, Economics and Social Studies, BESS  programme are up 15 to 495. The general entry Science programme is up 35 points from 475 to 510 points. (*for more detailed breakdown of key trends).

In keeping with Trinity’s mission of increasing access to higher education for all there are a record number of offers to students from traditionally under-represented groups.  Some of these students will enter through alternative admissions routes, including the Higher Education Access Route and the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP) and Partnership University Foundation Courses. 

This year has also seen a doubling in the number of TAP students receiving offers from Trinity to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, (STEM) and Health Science areas – and a marked trend towards focusing on higher professional areas such as Law, Medicine, Pharmacy and Engineering.

In 2010, TAP published a research report ‘What Happened Next?’ which demonstrated that students in Trinity from socio-economically under-represented groups had achieved comparative degree outcomes with all other Trinity students and they were achieving their early career goals.  TAP will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2013 and it has a target of over 2000 TAP graduates of TCD by 2020.



Notes to Editor

*Breakdown of Points

Faculty of Health Sciences

Along with Medicine which has risen five points from 741 to 746, points for the following courses are also up: 

         Pharmacy (+25) ( 550 to 575);

         Radiation Therapy (+20)(525 to 545);

         Dental Science and Occupational Therapy are both +15 points (Dental Science 575 to 590; Occupational Therapy 500 to 515);

         Physiotherapy (+10) (540 to 550).

 All strands of the Nursing programmes are showing increases:

         Children’s and General (+30 – 495 to 525).   

         General ((+10 – 420 to 430);

         Psychiatric (+15 – 390 to 405);

         Intellectual Disability ((+10 – 385 to 395).

Points for the course in Midwifery are up by 35 – 445 to 480.

Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science

All courses in this Faculty are showing significant increases in points reflecting increased application numbers and the introduction of bonus points for higher level Mathematics.

The general entry Science programme is up 35 points  from 475 to 510 points.

Points for the omnibus Engineering course (with the new Bioengineering degree option) are up 55 from 410 to 465; Engineering with Management is up 45 points from 390 to 435).

Computer Science and computer related courses are also showing marked increases:

          Computer Science (+65 to 450);

          Business and Computing (+45 to 465). 

          Points for Computer Science and Language, (the new omnibus entry which replaced three separate options for Computer Science, Linguistics and a Language) are 490 (average entry level for the courses in 2011 was 450).


         Theoretical Physics (+45 to 565);

         Nanoscience, Physics & Chemistry of Advanced Materials (+40 to 515 points);

         Chemistry with Molecular Modelling (+35 to 490);

         Human Genetics (+35 to 565);

         Medicinal Chemistry (+30 to 540);

         Earth Sciences (+20 to 490).


Single Honor Mathematics is up 65 points to 565 while Two Subject Moderatorship Mathematics is up 60 points to 585. (there was a 45% increase in first preference applications to both of these options)

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

The majority of the high demand areas continue to see increases.

Points for all of the Law related courses are showing increases:

          Law and German (+30 points to 525)

          Law (+15 points to 525)

          Law and French (+15 points to 565)

          Law and Political Science (+15 points to 575)

          Law and Business (+10 points to 565)

 Points for the very popular Business, Economics and Social Studies, BESS programme are up by 15 to 495. In addition, the majority of the Business with Language courses are also showing increases (French (-10 to 515); German (+30 to 480); Russian (+35 to 475); Polish (+25 to 415); Spanish (+30 to 505).

The usual high demand courses are showing increases: – Psychology (+15 to 565); Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Sociology, PPES, (+11 to 555); European Studies (+15 to 545)

The majority of subjects in Two Subject Moderatorship courses show increases in points, with marked increases in Drama Studies (+70); Mathematics (+60); History (+50); and Psychology (+15).

In line with general trends in some arts, humanities and social sciences elsewhere there have also been decreases in entry points requirements.

Entry for Non traditional students:

 Non traditional students.

Details of offers to the different cohorts that make up the non-traditional quota are set out below.  The target set for this year’s intake is 20%. 




DARE (Merit Offers)



DARE (Reduced Points) Offers



HEAR (Merit Offers)



HEAR (Reduced Points)Offers



TAP/ CDVEC Foundation Course (Young  Adults)



FETAC Offers



Mature Students



TAP/CDVEC Foundation Course (Mature Students)



Mature Nursing Courses



Total No. of Offers




  Note on Bonus Points for Mathematics:

There is a misconception that once a student achieves a D3 in higher level Leaving Certificate Mathematics that 25 bonus points will be added to their overall CAO points score.  This is not correct.

·         All students presenting HD3 or above in Higher Level (HL) mathematics will have 25 points added to their score for mathematics.

·         The six highest subject points scores will then be counted to achieve a cumulative points score, as is normal practice. 

·         The bonus points will only be relevant in cases where the subject HL mathematics (including bonus points) is scored as one of the candidate’s six best subjects for points purposes. Consequently, if HL mathematics (cumulative points score) is not among these six subjects, the bonus points will not be included in the total points score.

Full information and  examples can be found at