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CAO Handbook
Page 9 of 23


Step 3 – Indicate if you wish to apply for the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds resident in the Republic of Ireland. 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.

HEIs participating in HEAR Scheme

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

Dublin City University

Cork Institute of Technology

Dublin Institute of Technology

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Marino Institute of Education

Institute of Technology Blanchardstown

Mary Immaculate College Limerick

Institute of Technology Carlow

Maynooth University

Institute of Technology Sligo

National College of Ireland

Institute of Technology Tallaght

NUI Galway

Institute of Technology Tralee

Pontifical University Maynooth


Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Waterford Institute of Technology

St Angela’s College, Sligo

Trinity College Dublin

University College Cork

University College Dublin

University of Limerick

Table 1.4 HEIs participating in the HEAR scheme or operating other alternative entry routes for school-leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds

Applicants applying for HEAR must:

  1. Be under the age of 23 as of 1st January 2017.

  2. Apply online to CAO by 5:15pm on 1st February 2017.

  3. No later than 5:15pm on 1st March 2017, indicate in your CAO application that you wish to apply for the HEAR scheme 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 1st April 2017.

  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.

You should obtain a certificate of posting and include your CAO application number on the front of all correspondence. If you wish to receive confirmation from CAO that your documents have been received you must include a self-addressed and stamped postcard.

If you were deemed eligible for HEAR in 2016 it carries forward for one year provided that you apply to CAO by the 1st February 2017 at 5:15pm and indicate that you wish to apply to HEAR by 5:15pm on 1st March 2017. You must enter your correct CAO 2016 application number in the box provided. You are still required to complete all relevant sections of the 2017 HEAR application form, however you do not need to supply supporting documents as part of your application.

For more information about HEAR go to and/or visit Access Offices in the participating institutions.

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