Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is preparing a plan to increase the number of places in high-demand courses in an effort to ease pressure on college applicants, the Irish Times reported today.
A source in the higher education sector confirmed to the Irish Times that their institution had asked to increase available places in its most popular courses.
The source told the Irish Times: “We’ve been asked to increase the numbers we take in. Some courses have strict caps on numbers, but we’re looking at our capacity and there is room to increase our numbers.”
The Irish Times also reported that Department of Higher Education officials have identified several hundred potential extra places in third-level courses.
However, the Department will also have to be cognisant of the reduced physical space on college campuses and the limited number of course placements available within degree programmes such as medicine which require students to go on placement.
It has been reported that the Department is consulting with both the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to try and increase placement capacity.
One concern that has been identified within the Department is the potential that the third-level sector will become unbalanced, with more students opting to undertake degree programmes – leaving further education courses undersubscribed.
In July, the Irish Times reported that applications for traditionally high-points courses such as law, veterinary, dentistry and physiotherapy increased significantly this year.
Among the biggest percentage increases in applications for this year were in physiotherapy, which increased by 25 per cent, dentistry, which increased by 17 per cent, law, which increased by 16 per cent and veterinary medicine, which saw a 16 per cent increase.