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Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)



The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a third level admissions scheme for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. HEAR has been established by a number of Higher Education Institutions based on clear evidence that socio-economic disadvantage has a negative impact on educational achievement at school and progression to higher education.

School leavers who provide satisfactory evidence relating to their socio-economic circumstances and meet the Irish Leaving Certificate matriculation / minimum entry and subject requirements are eligible to compete for a quota of places allocated to applicants on a reduced points basis in National College of Ireland.  As the minimum entry and subject requirements may be different for each course, applicants should check this prospectus for the requirements of each preference listed on your CAO form.



Who should apply to HEAR?

HEAR is for school leavers (under 23 years old as of 1st January of the year of application for study), who have completed an Irish Leaving Certificate. Mature and FETAC students have different admission routes.

How to apply to HEAR?

  • Apply online to CAO by 17:15 on 1 February 2015. 
  • No later than 17:15 on 1st March 2015, you must indicate in your CAO application that you wish to apply for the HEAR scheme and you must fully and correctly complete all elements the HEAR form (the HEAR form is a part of your CAO application). 
  • Submit relevant evidence in support of your application to arrive at CAO no later than 17:15 on 1 April 2015

HEAR applications can only be made online at www.cao.ie.

More information on HEAR is available from your school Guidance Counsellor or NCI’s Student Support Office. Information can also be found on: www.accesscollege.ie, www.cao.ie.

Condition of a HEAR Offer

Students who receive a HEAR offer must attend an orientation programme before the first semester.

Students who accept places in National College of Ireland through HEAR are offered a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying at third level.

Frequently Asked Questions


Who should apply to HEAR?

HEAR is for school leavers (under the age of 23 as of January 1st of the year of application for study), who have completed an Irish Leaving Certificate. Mature and FETAC students have their own admissions routes and should contact NCI Admissions Offices for more information. 
HEAR applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators to be eligible for a reduced points place and extra college support. Applicants must provide specific documentation to verify which indicators they meet. All documents must be appropriately verified and returned to the CAO. Further information on supporting documentation is available on www.accesscollege.ie
Eligible applicants must satisfy HEAR criteria plus NCI’s entry requirements and any specific course requirements.



What is DARE?

DARE stands for Disability Access Route to Education (DARE). It is a supplementary admissions scheme which offers college places on reduced points to school leavers with disabilities. DARE has been set up by a number of colleges as evidence shows that disability can have a negative effect on how well a student does at school and whether they go on to college. Full details on DARE are available on www.accesscollege.ie.


What is HEAR?

Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a third level admissions scheme for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. HEAR has been set up by a number of colleges and universities as evidence shows that socio-economic disadvantage can have a negative impact on educational attainment at school and progression to higher education. Full details on HEAR are available on www.accesscollege.ie.


Who should apply to DARE?

DARE is for school leavers (under 23 years old as at January 1st of the year of application for study) who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education but who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course due to the impact of a disability. Please note that mature students are not eligible for DARE. NCI has a specific admissions route for mature students and further information can be obtained from the Admissions Office.


How do I apply to DARE?

Apply to the CAO at www.cao.ie and indicate you have a disability or specific learning difficulty on the CAO application form. You must then complete a Supplementary Information Form and submit specific disability documentation from an accepted consultant/ professional. This documentation must confirm your disability and the impact your disability has had on your education to date. Details on accepted consultants/ professionals and documentation required are available from www.accesscollege.ie.


How do I apply to HEAR?

Applicants should apply online at www.cao.ie as part of the CAO application process indicating NCI as a college choice. Applicants must then complete the separate online HEAR Application Form.


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