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CAO Handbook
Page 3 of 23


As a CAO applicant you may experience one or more of the following restrictions based on your course choices, your category of application, or restrictions imposed by the HEIs that you wish to apply to. Please read the following sections carefully:

General Restrictions

  1. Submitting a late application – individual HEIs may have restrictions on late applications, for example, some HEIs may not consider late applications from certain categories of applicant. In particular, mature applicants and those presenting qualifications other than recently taken EU school-leaving examinations should check the relevant HEI website or make enquiries with the relevant Admissions Office before submitting a late application.

  2. Making changes to your course choices – there are a number of intervals when you can make changes to your CAO application. However, if you are applying for a restricted course or if you are a restricted-category applicant, you may not be able to use the free ‘Change of Mind’ facility which opens in May and closes on the 1st July at 5:15pm. For more information about making changes to your application go to pages 14 and 15.

Restricted Courses

  1. Applying for a restricted course – you must have applied to CAO by 5:15pm on 1st February 2017 if you wish to apply for a restricted course. The restricted course must be included on your course choices list by that date, or added to your application using the ‘Change of Course Choices’ facility before 1st March at 5:15pm.

    Restricted courses normally require additional assessment procedures, e.g. the submission of a portfolio, an oral assessment or interview, or a written assessment – restricted courses are identified in the handbook by the words “(Restricted - see page 3)” on the same line as the restricted course’s title. Please make sure to acquaint yourself with the additional requirements, if any, of the restricted course(s) that you have applied for and go to page 11 for more information about interviews and assessments.

    Exception: If a restricted course shares the exact same assessment procedures with a course you had applied for by 1st February 2017, you may be permitted to introduce it on a ‘Change of Mind’. You should consult with the relevant HEI before introducing such a course.

Restricted-category Applicants

  1. Mature applicants – most HEIs will require mature applicants, who wish to be assessed on mature grounds, to have applied to CAO by 1st February 2017 at 5:15pm. (This restriction does not apply if the applicant wishes to be considered on the basis of school leaving qualifications only.) For more information about applying to CAO on the basis of mature years go to

  2. Applying for the HEAR and/or DARE schemes – to be considered for the HEAR and/or DARE schemes applicants must have registered on the CAO system by 1st February 2017 at 5:15pm and must have completed the HEAR/DARE application form by 1st March 2017 at 5:15pm – supporting documents must be sent to CAO offices before 1st April 2017 at 5:15pm.