Thousands of young people are finding out whether they have been offered the third level course of their choice in this year's initial CAO offers.

Offers have been arriving by post since this morning.

Many students who have been hoping that the points for their preferred course will have dropped may be disappointed. While in many cases entry requirements have fallen, in other areas they have risen.

The points needed for medicine are up by 15 points in most cases. This year's aspiring medical students will have to have attained a staggering 570 points in their Leaving Certificate, or 565 points in the case of UCC. Not every applicant who reached this level will be offered a place.

This rise in points for medicine will bolster arguments for a change in the way doctors are trained, and for a loosening of restrictions on the numbers of medical students admitted by the colleges. The Higher Education Authority would like to see medical students complete a general Science degree first.

Other health areas such as dentistry have also seen an increase. The points requirements for teacher training courses have also risen. There has been a drop in demand for IT and science courses in some colleges while the points for these courses have risen in others.

Full details of this year's first round points are available on Aertel, RTE1 p.400, and online at