There has been an increase of 10 per cent increase in the student demand for agriculture and food courses in third level education. Demand for commerce and business has also risen, with first preferences up by 6.5 per cent.

Meanwhile a fall in student demand for third-level places in pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary and primary school teaching in the 2013 first preferences submitted to the Central Applications Office (CAO) has been recorded.

Figures released this morning show the total number of applicants to the CAO was 76,120 this year, down slightly from 76,307 in 2012. The number of students seeking honours degree courses at 67,249 is up by only 77 on last year, a factor that has helped to moderate points rises and falls. The numbers of students seeking places on ordinary degree/higher certificate courses are down from 49,593 to 48,680.

One of the biggest percentage changes year-on-year is the sharp 17 per cent drop in first-choice applications for pharmacy, which fell from 470 in 2012 to 391. The steepest rise was demand for places on agriculture/food courses at 10 per cent.

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