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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 the HEAR Scheme

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

Dublin City University

NUI Galway

Cork Institute of Technology

Dublin Institute of Technology

Pontifical University Maynooth

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Institute of Technology Blanchardstown

Institute of Technology Sligo

St Angela’s College Sligo

Institute of Technology Carlow

Marino Institute of Education

Trinity College Dublin

Institute of Technology Tallaght

Mary Immaculate College Limerick

University College Cork

Institute of Technology Tralee

Maynooth University

University College Dublin


National College of Ireland

University of Limerick

Waterford Institute of Technology

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 2018.

  2. Apply online to CAO by 5:15pm on 1st February 2018.

  3. No later than 5:15pm on 1st March 2018, 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 2018.

  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.

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

Carrying forward HEAR eligibility

If you were deemed eligible for HEAR in 2017, it carries forward for one year provided that you apply to CAO by the 1st February 2018 at 5:15pm and indicate that you wish to apply to HEAR by 5:15pm on 1st March 2018. You must enter your correct CAO 2017 application number in the box provided. You are still required to complete all relevant sections of the 2018 HEAR application form, however you do not need to supply supporting documents as part of your application.