More than 76,000 applications for third level places for next autumn were received by the CAO by close of business this evening.

Today was the deadline for initial applications, although a late application facility opens in March and runs until 1 May.

After several years which saw growing numbers of applicants year on year, this year's figure is similar to that of 2016.

Applicants will have an opportunity later in the year to alter their course choices, should they so wish.