The basic argument is this: (i) universities cynically restrict their intake to courses, (ii) the CAO is a supply and demand system, (iii) points go up, (iv) prestige of institution is enhanced.
But it’s wrong.
To prove this, I examined the data from 2015 (it was all published in the Irish Times) and I looked at business courses only. I also restricted my analysis to the university sector. I didn’t include Law + Business courses (I think they’re more law than business).
I included all courses with a business component: business, finance, business+language, international business, commerce, accounting and marketing. In one case (a UCC course) the intake represents the total number of students admitted to the business+language courses and the points represents the average value for all languages available.
Here’s what I got. The different symbols reflect different institutions. The log scale on the x-axis is used purely for visualization purposes.
If you can see evidence of manipulation, you’re a cleverer person than me.
Added later: It should be pointed out that there are some very legitimate logistical reasons for why some of the courses have a very low intake, e.g, a formal agreement with a university in another country.