The figures show that the number of students expressing a first preference for science courses is up by 18.5% on last year and a whopping 60% over the last five years.
While it's encouraging to see such demand for science courses, it's possible, as reported by the Irish Times, that such a demand could put 'upward pressure' on the points required to study some of these popular science courses. For example, in 2006 you could study science at UCD for 300 points. Last year, that figure had reached 455.
In total, there were 71,648 CAO applications this year; up slightly on 2011.
It is more important than ever that we invest in science teaching and training at third-level to provide the courses (and places in numbers) that CAO applicants are looking for after heeding the many calls from government ministers, industry leaders and science advocates.
Like other sectors, Higher Education is being asked to do more with less. Everyone accepts that value for money needs to be an important consideration, but missing this chance to take advantage of swelling interest in science and technology courses would not do anybody any good. Without significant and sustained investment, this will be a wasted opportunity.