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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.

Table 1.4 HEIs participating in the HEAR scheme

HEIs participating in the HEAR Scheme

Athlone Institute of Technology

Institute of Technology Tralee

Pontifical University Maynooth

Cork Institute of Technology

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Dublin City University

Limerick Institute of Technology

St Angela’s College, Sligo

Dublin Institute of Technology

Marino Institute of Education

Trinity College Dublin

Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology

Mary Immaculate College Limerick

University College Cork

Institute of Technology Blanchardstown

Maynooth University

University College Dublin

Institute of Technology Sligo

National College of Ireland

University of Limerick

Institute of Technology Tallaght

NUI Galway

Table 1.5 HEIs entry routes for school-leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds

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

Institute of Technology Carlow


Waterford Institute of Technology

Applicants applying for HEAR must:

  1. Be under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2019.

  2. Apply online to CAO by 5:15pm on 1 February 2019.

  3. No later than 5:15pm on 1 March 2019, 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 1 April 2019.

  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, the page number and the date 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.

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

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 2018, it carries forward for one year provided that you apply to CAO by 1 February 2019 at 5:15pm and indicate that you wish to apply to HEAR by 5:15pm on 1 March 2019. You must enter your correct CAO 2018 application number in the box provided. You are still required to complete all relevant sections of the 2019 HEAR application form, however you do not need to supply supporting documents as part of your application.