Applying for a Third Level Course

Information

You apply for almost all full-time undergraduate courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO). The undergraduate courses in the universities and institutes of technology include Higher Certificates – Level 6, Ordinary Bachelor degrees – Level 7 and Honours Bachelor degrees – Level 8. There is no central applications body for Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses. Students must apply directly to the individual colleges.

The CAO provides a handbook that lists all the courses on offer and gives information on how to apply. The closing date for 2012 applications from Irish and other European Union nationals is 5.15 pm on 1 February 2012. Late applications are allowed up to 5.15 pm on 1 May 2012.

Decisions on offers of places are normally made in August and September, after the results of the Leaving Certificate have come out. A detailed schedule of the offer rounds is in the CAO handbook.

Entry requirements

Points

Students who have taken the Leaving Certificate examination are allocated points for the results they get in their 6 best subjects at a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate. The points awarded depend on the level of achievement in the subject. You can use the points calculator on qualifax.ie to work out what points are awarded for any particular set of results.

If you have a disability

You may qualify for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) scheme.

Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)

The HEAR admissions scheme allocates a number of third-level places on a reduced points basis to school-leavers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Minimum Entry Requirements

Most higher education institutes have minimum entry requirements e.g. for the National University of Ireland, which includes UCC, the minimum entry requirement is 6 subjects, including English, Irish and a third language. In 2 of these subjects, students must have achieved grade C at Higher Level.

PLC courses

Places on Post-Leaving Certificate courses are not allocated on the basis of points, but applicants must be of Leaving Certificate standard. Most colleges interview candidates to determine their suitability.

The following websites may be useful

CAO: www.cao.ie

Citizen’s Information Service: citizensinformation.ie

The Higher Education Equality Authority:  http://www.hea.ie/en/apply_for_a_course

Education in Ireland: www.educationireland.ie. (particularly for international students)

QualifaX is the Irish national database of all further and higher education courses. QualifaX is the ‘one stop shop’ for information on courses. Included are links to college and other education / training websites in Ireland and abroad. http://www.qualifax.ie/

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