CAO and DARE/HEAR - what happens now

The abrupt closure of school last Thursday, which was also the deadline for all backup information for HEAR/DARE applications, left a lot of students and parents stressed and worried. If for any reason you did not manage to complete your HEAR/DARE application, for example your educational impact statement for DARE and financial documents for HEAR, l would urge you to sent in whatever you have to the CAO office now. We have not received any updates in terms of an extension to the deadline, however we are in unprecedented territory and because of this they may look favourably on your late application. All of the online information would have been completed and submitted by March 1.

CAO news

As of close of business in February a total of 72,973 CAO applications have been submitted including 63,378 applications for Level 8 courses and 29,817 applications for Level 6/7 courses. Of course all of those figures can change as and when the change of mind facility re-opens in early May. At that time students can change their minds and add new courses, delete courses they have already applied for, and effectively start again. However they cannot add restricted courses. The closing date for restricted courses was February 1. Courses in areas such as environment, architecture, and construction and transport services experienced the most significant increase in CAO first preference choices in 2020.

Secondary education, dentistry, pharmacy, and physiotherapy also saw a significant rise in first preference applications.

Courses in health (65,666 ), business and administration (46,459 ), and arts (34,070 ) show the highest number of applications at Level 8.

Courses in business and administration (20,386 ), engineering and engineering trades (12,957 ), and personal services (10,794 ) had the highest number of applications at Level 6/7.

Any students who applied for a Level 6/7 course may continue their studies for a further year thus obtaining a Level 8 higher degree at all TUs and institutes of technology.

Apprenticeships for both male and female students are options well worth considering; check them out on

Student supports/scholarships

Every year around 20 per cent of students drop out of college, often due to financial pressure, yet only one third of students are eligible for the full SUSI student grant. It is well worth taking a look at the other opportunities available to supplement costs in some way. In this area, you will find useful information on student finance, disability and financial support, scholarships and award schemes, sports scholarships, and academic scholarships

Check with all third level colleges regarding the different types of scholarships available. Some deadlines are coming up shortly, for example, the application deadline for sports scholarships is March 31, and for creative arts performance the deadline is May 1.

Many colleges will have blogs which you can subscribe to where information is available on courses, scholarships, and accommodation.

PLC courses

Post Leaving Certificate (PLC ) courses are full-time courses for young students who have completed their Leaving Certificate and adults who wish to return to education. The course lasts one to two years and leads to an award on the National Framework of Qualifications at NFQ Level 5 or NFQ Level 6. A wide selection of areas are covered, including business, electronics engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multimedia studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, and horticulture.

How to apply

Log on to, the national learning database, or the website of the college in which you wish to study. In general, you should have finished your secondary education and taken your Leaving Certificate examination in order to be eligible for a PLC course. However you may be able to apply for a PLC course if you have not completed your Leaving Certificate, if you have work experience relevant to the course on offer. You should contact the college where the course will take place. Explain your circumstances in the letter and ask to meet the co-ordinator of the course.


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