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CAO Handbook
Page 7 of 23
  1. Mature Applicants Normally mature applicants should be 23-years-old on or before 1 January in the year of entry (e.g. 1 January 2021 for admission in Autumn 2021) and must apply by 1 February 2021 at 5:15pm. The Mature Applicant Form (part of the CAO application form) must be completed by 1 March 2021 at 5:15 pm (please read the instructions on page 8 before completing this form).

    Please note: some HEIs may have a different age requirement, different definitions of mature applicants, etc., and some will consider applications received after the 1 February closing date. Further details are available on

Mature Applicant Form

HEIs wish to carefully evaluate applications from mature applicants and, therefore, need certain information to be provided using the Mature Applicant Form as outlined below:

  1. Highest Qualification to Date: Please enter details of the highest qualification that you have achieved to date. If you have not received any formal qualification you can enter ‘Not Applicable’. Qualifications that should be included in this section range from Level 3 (Group Certificate) to Level 10 (PhD) qualifications, BTEC and School Leaving Certificates.

  2. Current Studies: If you are currently studying other courses, please outline details in a separate document and include with the supporting documents being sent to CAO.

  3. Post-secondary Education: In this section you must provide all details of higher and further education that you have undertaken, for example, Higher Certificate, National Certificate, Bachelor (Honours) Degree, etc. Other examples of further education studies include NCVA Level 2/3, QQI FET/FETAC Level 5/6, Access Course, PLC, City & Guilds, etc.

  4. Second Level Education: It is important to provide information and results for any exams that you have taken, e.g. Junior Certificate; Leaving Certificate (pre-1985 only); GC(S)E, etc., and the dates awarded. Leaving Certificate examination results from 1985 onwards are available to CAO from the State Examinations Commission based on the year and examination number supplied by you in the appropriate section of the application form.

  5. Non-certificate Courses: Examples of non-certificate courses include personal interest courses such as Art Appreciation, Film Studies, etc.

  6. Employment or Voluntary Work: Starting with your most recent position, please provide details of all employment/voluntary work including the name and address of the employer, position held, period of employment and description of duties.

  7. English Language Proficiency (if applicable): If English is not your first language you must provide evidence of English language competence and details of the English language qualification(s) that you hold. See HEI websites for specific requirements.

  8. References: As part of your application you will be expected to provide the names of two referees (e.g. a previous employer or educator) who can be contacted by the admissions officer(s) of the institution(s) that you are applying to, to verify the information provided on your application form.

  9. Statement of Interest: In no more than 1,500 characters you will be asked to explain the relevance of your life/educational experience to your application, and state your educational goals and objectives.

  10. Hobbies/Interests: In no more than 500 characters indicate any hobbies/interests that relate to your proposed study at third level.

  11. Additional Information: In this section please indicate if there is any additional information of which you wish to advise us that would necessitate special arrangements during the application or assessment process.

If you have queries about the information required in sections 1-11 above please contact the Admissions Offices(s) of the HEI(s) to which you wish to apply.