Students are regaining confidence in the prospect of careers in construction and related areas, according to the latest data on third level applications.

Figures from the Central Applications Office show a distinct rise in numbers hoping to begin studying architecture and other building related courses in colleges this autumn.

First preference applications for Architecture have risen by 15% compared to last year. While first preferences for other Built Environment courses have increased by 134%.

These increases follow years of severe and cumulative decline in numbers applying for courses in these areas.

The decline was linked to the collapse of the property market in 2008.

This data from the CAO relates to the choices students made when filling out their initial applications prior to 1 February.

They also show a surge in interest in Engineering and Technology degree courses - up 10% on last year.

Once again Agriculture is proving an increasingly popular choice, with first preference applications up this year by 12%. This follows increases of a similar order in recent years.

Last year, applications for teaching courses dropped by 8%. There has been somewhat of a recovery this year, with first preference applications up by 2%.

Nursing, however, has fallen in popularity this year. First preference applications are down by more than 5%, which may have to do with recent criticism of low wage levels in the area.

As in previous years the Arts and Social Sciences have attracted the largest number of applicants. More than 15,000 applicants have expressed their desire to study these subject areas come September.

Recent years have seen a growth of interest in Science and related courses.

There has been no great increase this year, but gains made in recent times are holding steady.

Overall 73,000 have applied to Irish third level institutes for course in the autumn. This is an almost 3% increase on numbers for last year.