What is DARE?
The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. DARE offers reduced points places to school leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges in second level education.
DARE is for school leavers with a disability under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2021, who have been educationally impacted as a result of that disability. Applicants to DARE can present with an Irish Leaving Certificate, A-Levels and other EU qualifications.
Mature students and students applying on the basis of Further Education and Training (FET) results have different admission routes. You can get further information on these routes from college and university websites.
Is DARE for me?
If you have one or more of the disabilities listed here and your disability has had a negative impact on your second level education, then you should apply to DARE.
If you apply to DARE and meet the application criteria (that is, are deemed eligible for DARE), you may be offered a place even if you do not have enough Leaving Certificate points for your preferred course. Each participating college and university has a reserved number of places to offer eligible DARE applicants at lower or reduced Leaving Certificate points.
An example of a reduced points offer is that the Leaving Certificate points for a particular course is 366 points. An eligible DARE applicant could be offered a place with a lower points score, e.g. 356 points. This applicant would also, like all other applicants applying to college, need to meet the minimum entry requirements and any specific programme requirements before being considered for a DARE reduced points offer. The reduction in points for DARE places can vary every year.
The number of points a particular course is reduced by is dependent on a number of factors, such as
- The overall number of places on the course.
- The number of reserved DARE places on the course.
- The number of DARE eligible applicants competing for these reserved places.
Information on the number of reduced points places available per course and the method used by colleges for selecting eligible DARE students for those places is available on HEI websites and on each of the participating colleges’ page on this site.
Prioritisation of Applicants Eligible for both DARE & HEAR
Research has shown that students with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds face the greatest obstacles when it comes to progression to higher education. In order to increase the numbers of students facing this ‘double disadvantage’, colleges participating in DARE and HEAR have agreed to prioritise this group when allocating reduced points places.
Prioritisation of Eligible DARE Applicants with a Physical or Sensory Disability
Research has identified that students with physical and sensory (Blind/ Vision Impairment and Deaf/ Hard of Hearing) disabilities are particularly underrepresented in higher education in Ireland relative to all students with disabilities. In order to increase the numbers of DARE students with physical and sensory disabilities being admitted to higher education, the DARE colleges have agreed to prioritise these two groups when allocating reduced points places.
You don’t have to be eligible for DARE to get support in college. All students with a verified disability, regardless of whether they come through DARE or not, can avail of a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying at third level.
College supports may include:
- Orientation programmes.
- Learning support.
- Assistive technology.
- Library support.
- Exam accommodations.
- Educational Support Worker.
- Academic tuition.
Disability Access Map
Students with disabilities and specific learning difficulties can follow their route to college with the Disability Access Map. This new tool will allow you to track your path to college step by step and give you lots of great information and advice about the college application procedures, what you need to do to prepare for college life, how to get supports in college and how to approach your first semester. See www.ahead.ie/accessmap for details.
Language Waiver and Fitness to Practice
Applying to DARE and applying for a language waiver are two separate processes. Therefore, DARE applicants who require a language waiver but haven’t yet applied for one need to apply to the relevant authorities (e.g. National University of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, etc.). Further information on applying for language waivers is available on the Frequently Asked Questions section here.
If there is a language requirement in the specific programme requirements for your chosen course, you must have that language.
Fitness to Practice
Students on most professional health/ teaching courses are required to complete a medical declaration form confirming they do not have a disability/ significant on-going illness that may delay or prevent them starting or completing the professional programme.
If you are applying for these type of courses, it is useful to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with the Disability/Access Service in the college in which you are interested.
Financial Assistance and SUSI
Students applying to DARE are encouraged to find out more information on the maintenance grant. Additional information on other sources of financial assistance for third level students is available at www.studentfinance.ie.
Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI)
For detailed information on financial support and student grants when going to third level, log on to www.susi.ie.
- Use the Grant Eligibility Reckoner to indicate if you meet SUSI’s criteria to receive student grant funding.
- Apply early and return requested documentation as soon as possible.
- Tick the SUSI option on your CAO application to share your college course details with SUSI.
Download the SUSI Undergraduate Information Leaflet here.