Are universities inflating points?

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.


About Greg Foley

A lecturer in Biotechnology in Dublin City University for more than 25 years. Trained as a Chemical Engineer in UCD (BE and PhD) and Cornell (MS). Does research on analysis and design of membrane filtration systems.
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3 Responses to Are universities inflating points?

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Are universities inflating points?

  2. I don’t understand what you’re plotting here. For each institution are you plotting different courses expecting to find some correlation?

    Also, how do you define intake? Is that the advertised quota or the actual number of CAO students admitted? These are often not the same of course.

    • Greg Foley says:

      The plot is simply the minimum entry points versus the intake. The argument that Philip Nolan and others have been making is that institutions are deliberately controlling the intake to inflate points and enhance their prestige. I see no evidence of this.

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