Applications to study science, technology and engineering at third level have increased significantly over the past five years.

An analysis of CAO preferences by the Higher Education Authority also found that technology courses make up one fifth of all first preference applications this year.

First preference applications for engineering and science - at 4.6% and 7.5% respectively - are both up on last year.

Applications for computer courses have stabilised at 6.6%.

Technology courses now constitute one third of all Level 6 & 7 first preference applications.

Engineering and science applications have increased to 10% and 11.2% respectively.

Over the past five years the number of first preference applications for technology courses has increased by 11% with a 51% increase in computing, a 17% increase in science and a 22% increase in engineering.

The figures have been welcomed by HEA chairman John Hennessy, who encouraged second level students, as well as their families and guidance counsellors to seriously examine long-term careers in science, technology, engineering and math courses.