The number of people looking for a place on courses run by further education colleges has risen dramatically for the second year running.

A survey by the Teachers' Union of Ireland estimates that this year there have been three applicants for every Post-Leaving Cert place available.

The TUI has called on the Government to allow the sector to expand to meet demand.

Last year there was a strong increase in the numbers applying to Post-Leaving Cert courses with an estimated two applicants for every place.

However, this year it is worse with three students chasing each place, according to data gathered from 11 colleges.

The colleges of further education offer 30,000 places on their PLC courses but they want to offer more.

The TUI wants the Government to lift restrictions placed on PLC numbers, which it says make no economic sense.

All the colleges surveyed have huge numbers of applicants; the highest - Ballyfermot College in Dublin - has more than four applicants for every place.

The TUI says young people are being denied the opportunity to further their education and many will now have no option but to claim unemployment benefit.