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CAO Handbook
Page 10 of 23


Step 6: Indicate if you wish to be considered for the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and apply for HEAR

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers resident in the Republic of Ireland, who are underrepresented at Higher Education due to their socio-economic background. Before submitting a HEAR application you should read the HEAR Handbook on the CAO website and discuss this with your parents, guardians or guidance counsellor. There are other admissions routes for mature and QQI FET/FETAC Level 5/6 applicants; further information is available on HEI websites.

Table 1.4 HEIs participating in the HEAR scheme

HEIs participating in the HEAR Scheme

Athlone Institute of Technology

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

St Angela's College, Sligo

Cork Institute of Technology

Limerick Institute of Technology

Technological University Dublin

Dublin City University

Marino Institute of Education

Trinity College Dublin

Dundalk Institute of Technology

Mary Immaculate College

University College Cork

Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology

Maynooth University

University College Dublin

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

National College of Ireland

University of Limerick

Institute of Technology Carlow

NUI Galway

Institute of Technology Sligo

Pontifical University Maynooth

Institute of Technology Tralee

RCSI University of Medicine & Health Sciences

Table 1.5 Other HEI entry routes for school-leavers from socio-economically underrepresented backgrounds

Other HEIs operating entry routes for school-leavers from socio-economically underrepresented backgrounds


Waterford Institute of Technology

Applicants applying for HEAR must:

  1. Be under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2021.

  2. Apply online to CAO by 5:15pm on 1 February 2021.

  3. No later than 5:15pm on 1 March 2021, indicate in your CAO application that you wish to apply for HEAR, and fully and correctly complete all elements of the HEAR form (the HEAR form is part of your CAO application). Once you have completed the HEAR application form a checklist will appear on-screen telling you which documents you need to supply.

  4. Post your supporting documents to arrive in CAO no later than 5:15pm on 15 March 2021.

  5. Submit A4 photocopies of your supporting documents. Do not send originals. HEIs may require you to supply the original documents at a later date and any offers made are subject to this condition.

Instructions for submitting supporting documents to CAO can be found on the back cover of this handbook.

For more information about HEAR go to and/or visit the websites of Access Offices in the participating institutions. Instructions for submitting a DARE or HEAR application may be found in the DARE HEAR Application Handbooks and at

Please note: A separate application for financial assistance needs to be made via

Carrying forward HEAR eligibility

If you were deemed eligible for HEAR in 2020, it carries forward for one year provided that you apply to CAO by 1 February 2021 at 5:15pm and indicate that you wish to apply to HEAR and enter your correct CAO 2020 application number in the box provided by 5:15pm on 1 March 2021. You are still required to complete all relevant sections of the 2021 HEAR application form, however you do not need to supply supporting documents as part of your application.