The latest data on the CAO college applications process indicates a Covid-19 'bounce' in interest in health related courses.

Statistics published by the Central Applications Office show a 7% increase in applications to degree courses in the area of health over the past few months, from a 3% decline on last year's figures in February to a 4% increase by 1 July.

Overall, almost 78,000 applications for third-level courses have been received by the CAO, a figure that is on a par with last year's data.

For the first time, the CAO has published data on the number of applicants who altered their course choices under the 'change of mind' facility that runs over the months of May and June. Overall, more than half of applicants changed their mind.

The past months have seen a 9% rise in first preference applications to nursing and midwifery courses, from a decline of 8% in February to a 1% rise by the end of June. Numbers wishing to study medicine, which in February were on a par with the previous year, have since seen a 6% rise.

There are a number of reasons for this – it may be the case that some students are hoping to receive higher results under this year's Predicted Grades process, and so have changed their first preferences to higher points courses, such as medicine.

Applications to other high points healthcare courses, such as physiotherapy, dentistry and veterinary, show a similar pattern.

Apart from healthcare, trends in applications this year seem to mirror those of recent years.

Numbers wishing to train as second-level teachers has risen by 7%, while applications to primary teaching are static.

Architecture and construction continues to rise in popularity, with a 7% increase compared to last year in those choosing degree courses in these areas.

First preference applications to law degree courses have risen by 16%.

Interest in engineering degree courses is up by 6%.

Biology and related science courses have also risen in popularity this year, with 5% more applications to degree courses compared to last year.

However, there has been a 7% and 9% decline in numbers putting an arts or humanities course as their first level 8 choice.