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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

Limerick Institute of Technology

Technological University Dublin City Campus

Cork Institute of Technology

Marino Institute of Education

Technological University Dublin Blanchardstown Campus

Dublin City University

Mary Immaculate College

Technological University Dublin Tallaght Campus

Dundalk Institute of Technology

Maynooth University

Trinity College Dublin

Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology

National College of Ireland

University College Cork

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

NUI Galway

University College Dublin

Institute of Technology Sligo

Pontifical University Maynooth

University of Limerick

Institute of Technology Tralee

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

St Angela's College, Sligo

Table 1.5 Other HEI 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 2020.

  2. Apply online to CAO by 5:15pm on 1 February 2020.

  3. No later than 5:15pm on 1 March 2020, 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 15 March 2020.

  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 see page 12.

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 2019, it carries forward for one year provided that you apply to CAO by 1 February 2020 at 5:15pm and indicate that you wish to apply to HEAR and enter your correct CAO 2019 application number in the box provided by 5:15pm on 1 March 2020. You are still required to complete all relevant sections of the 2020 HEAR application form, however you do not need to supply supporting documents as part of your application.