Points requirements for college courses are “highly likely” to reach last year’s record levels again with many places awarded on the basis of random selection, according to internal Government records.


The Irish Times is reporting that officials believe the decision to keep Leaving Cert students’ grades “no lower” than last year, combined with high numbers of college applicants, will lead to a similar pattern later this year, according to records released under the Freedom of Information Act.


Last year saw a sharp increase in the use of random selection – essentially a lottery system – to award high-demand college places in courses such as medicine, health sciences, commerce and engineering.


Just over 40 per cent of college courses which required 550 points or more used random selection last year. Some students who received the maximum points possible – 625 – ended up losing out on their first-choice college places last year after places were awarded this way.


Government sources say Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris

 is planning to seek Cabinet approval shortly for an additional 1,000 college places this year which will be targeted in areas such as medicine, healthcare, social care, engineering and courses relating to climate change.


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