The secretary of the CAO, Martin Newell, has told RTÉ's 5-7 Live programme that a decision has been taken at an operational level to stop providing information that is used to compile league tables to third level institutions.

Mr Newell says a formal decision on whether or not to release this information in the future will be taken on Friday week.

Earlier, the General Manager of the CAO criticised national newspapers for publishing what he says is inaccurate information about students attending third level colleges.

John McEvoy said he believed the print media were not acting in the public interest by publishing so-called league tables. He said he believed their motivation was to sell newspapers.

The move to stop providing information comes after the CAO received representations from groups concerned about the impact of league tables.

Earlier, Mr McEvoy said he believed the office could be in breach of data protection legislation by releasing this information.

The two main national daily newspapers, the Irish Independent and the Irish Times, have defended their publication of the tables.

While accepting that the information is less than perfect, both organisations say they are providing valuable information to parents.

In recent years national newspapers have used the Freedom of Information Act to force colleges to release information about their feeder schools and published this in league table formats.