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Quick, simple answers to your questions about DARE

Here you will find the answers to questions we get asked the most about DARE applications

General questions

DARE is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education.

DARE is for school leavers (under 23yrs as of 1 January 2023) who have a disability and who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course due to the impact of their disability. Applicants to DARE can present with an Irish Leaving Certificate, A-Levels and other EU qualifications

DARE was set up to tackle educational disadvantage. Disability can cause people to do less well in school and can prevent some second level students going on to college or university.

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 number of reserved 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 on the basis of their Leaving Certificate results, 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 varies 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.
  • ATU Galway-Mayo
  • ATU Letterkenny-Donegal
  • ATU Sligo
  • Dublin City University (DCU)
  • Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
  • Dundalk IT
  • Marino Institute of Education
  • Mary Immaculate College
  • Maynooth University
  • Munster Technological University, Cork Campus
  • Munster Technological University, Kerry Campus
  • National College of Art and Design
  • National College of Ireland
  • Pontifical University Maynooth
  • RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • SETU Carlow
  • SETU Waterford
  • St Angela’s College Sligo
  • Trinity College (TCD)
  • TU Dublin
  • TUS Athlone Campus
  • TUS Limerick Campus
  • University College Cork (UCC)
  • University College Dublin (UCD)
  • University of Galway
  • University of Limerick (UL)

Students can apply through DARE for the ‘reduced points’ places in any of these colleges.

Each of the colleges set aside a quota of places for DARE students each year. For further information on the number of places available in particular institutions or courses, please contact the disability office in the college of your choice.

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger’s Syndrome)
  • Blind/ Vision Impaired
  • Deaf/ Hearing Impaired
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) – Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia/ Significant Numeracy Difficulties
  • Dyslexia/ Significant Literacy Difficulties
  • Mental Health Condition
  • Neurological Condition (including Brain Injury and Epilepsy)
  • Physical Disability
  • Significant Ongoing Illness
  • Speech and Language Communication Disorder

Your application will be assessed by a team of trained DARE assessors on behalf of the colleges and universities that take part in DARE. These assessors have expertise and knowledge of the impact of disability on educational attainment and assess applications on the basis of the DARE criteria.

Specific criteria have been developed to decide the significance of each disability and its impact on educational attainment. The Disability Advisory Boards, HEI professionals and representatives from expert external organisations developed these guidelines. You must meet the criteria to be eligible for DARE.

Applicants applying for DARE must:

  • Be under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2023.
  • Apply to the CAO by 17:00 on 1 February 2023.
  • No later than 17:00 on 1 March 2023, disclose your disability in your CAO application and fully and correctly complete Section A of the Supplementary Information Form (SIF). To apply to DARE, you must answer YES to Question 1 (‘do you wish to be considered for DARE?’) on Section A of the fully completed SIF by 17:00 on 1 March 2023.
  • Download Section B Educational Impact Statement (EIS) and have your school complete the form. Return the EIS to the CAO to arrive by 17:00 on 15 March 2023.
  • Download Section C Evidence of Disability, and have it completed by the appropriate medical professional (only if you do not already have a report verifying your disability that meets the DARE criteria). Return it to the CAO to arrive by 17:00 on 15 March 2023.
  • Download Section D School Statement (appropriate to those with Dyslexia/ Significant Literacy Difficulties ONLY) and have it completed by your school. Return it to the CAO to arrive by 17:00 on 15 March 2023.

To confirm you have completed your online application correctly (Questions 1-5), please go to www.cao.ie, click on My Application, enter your login details and check the information you have entered. You can make changes to your DARE application until 1 March 2023.

You must complete a Supplementary Information Form (SIF). This should be completed by you, your school and an appropriate professional. The Supplementary Information Form contains the following sections:
  • Section A – you must complete Questions 1 to 5 of the online SIF.
  • Section B – you must download Section B Educational Impact Statement (EIS) and have your school complete the form. Return the EIS to CAO to arrive by 17:00 on 15 March 2023.
  • Section C – you must download Section C Evidence of Disability, and have it completed by the appropriate medical professional (only if you do not already have a report verifying your disability that meets the DARE criteria). Return it to CAO to arrive by 17:00 on 15 March 2023
Applicants with Dyslexia / Significant Literacy Difficulties should click here to check the specific instructions for completing their applications.

If you are no longer attending school, you should submit an EIS from the most recent post primary school that you attended. EIS forms completed by a PLC or FET college will not be considered when determining DARE eligibility.

  • If you have not attended your current school for your entire duration of post primary education but the EIS from this school captures the educational impact of your disability/ condition (i.e. the school can provide sufficient information for you to be considered under two indicators or more), you can submit an EIS from your current school.
  • If you have not attended your current school for your entire duration of post primary education AND the EIS from this school does not capture the educational impact of your disability/ condition (i.e. the school cannot provide sufficient information for you to be considered under two indicators or more), you should submit a second EIS from your previous school.

Applicants with Dyslexia / Significant Literacy Difficulties can apply to DARE in two ways. Evidence for either of the following two categories of applicant are acceptable:
A: Applicants who have a Psychological Assessment Report identifying Dyslexia OR
B: Applicants who have Significant Literacy Difficulties but do NOT have a Psychological Assessment Report identifying Dyslexia

Where an applicant is submitting a Psychological Assessment Report identifying Dyslexia, it must be completed by an appropriately qualified psychologist.

This report must be accompanied by attainment scores from tests administered by your school and/ or an appropriately qualified psychologist carried out on or after 1 February 2021.

If some of the information that DARE needs is not in the full report, an appropriately qualified psychologist can fill out a summary sheet. You must submit both the original full psychological assessment report and the summary sheet.

For further details click here.

  • By 17:00 1 February 2023- Apply to CAO on www.cao.ie.
  • By 17:001 March 2023- You must indicate that you have a disability on your CAO application form.
  • By 17:00 1 March 2023- You must complete Section A of the Supplementary Information Form.
  • By 17:00 1 March 2023- You must indicate your wish to be considered for DARE by ticking ‘Yes’ to Question 1.
  • By 17:00 15 March 2023- Submit both Section B Educational Impact Statement and Section C Evidence of Disability Form to the CAO.

If you are unable to complete the online form, you must submit the paper application form (distributed by the CAO) by the same date.

  • You will be notified by email of the outcome of your DARE application by the end of June. If you do not receive any correspondence by July 1, contact a member of the DARE team. You can find their contact details here.
  • If you are eligible, you can compete for one of the reduced points places on offer in the universities and colleges taking part in the DARE scheme. All DARE course offers are made by the CAO.
  • You must meet the minimum entry and course requirements to be considered for one of the reduced points places. Details of places available and minimum course entry requirements can be found on each participating college’s page on this site.

You can make a Review and Appeal Application if you believe you meet at least one of the grounds for making a Review and Appeal. Click here for more information.

Whether you go to college through DARE or not, if you have a disability, you will be offered a variety of educational, technological and personal supports while studying. These supports include an orientation programme (before courses start), learning support, assistive technology, library support, exam accommodations, education support workers, and academic tuition. It is up to each college to decide which supports it will offer.

Yes. Most students with a disability enter college on merit having met the points needed for their course. They are offered a variety of educational, technological and personal supports even though they did not enter or were not eligible through DARE.

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a college and university admissions scheme for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and a separate process to DARE. You can also apply to the HEAR if you think this applies to you. You must submit all the documents needed for both schemes. If you are eligible for both the DARE and HEAR schemes, you will be prioritised for an offer at the CAO offers stage. You can get more information about applying to HEAR by here. 

DARE is only for school leavers with disabilities who were under 23 years of age on 1 January in the year of entry. There are different admission routes for mature students. You can find out more about these on the websites of the various colleges and universities.

Applying to DARE and applying for a language waiver are two separate processes. Therefore, DARE students who require a language waiver but haven’t yet applied for one need to apply to the relevant authority (e.g. National University of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College).

Applying for language exemptions to National University of Ireland (NUI – NUI Galway, Maynooth University, University College Cork or University College Dublin)

Students with specific learning difficulties (incl. dyslexia) seeking admission to NUI Galway, Maynooth University, UCC or UCD need to apply to the National University of Ireland for exemption from Irish and/or the Third Language requirement. The criteria applied by the National University of Ireland for the granting of exemptions from Irish and/or the Third language are not the same as for DARE; in general, NUI will grant an exemption from the Irish/ Third language requirements to students who at any stage, whether at primary or second-level school, have qualified for exemption from Irish, under the regulations of the Department of Education and Skills. To qualify under DARE, you must fulfil the DARE criteria. For further information on NUI exemptions, look under Entry Requirements or contact NUI at 014392424 or registrar@nui.ie.

TCD Language and Mathematics Waiver

Students with specific learning difficulties, sensory or communication disabilities may apply for a waiver of the modern language requirement, provided that the study of a language does not form part of their chosen course of study. In addition, students with dyscalculia, sensory or communication disabilities, may be eligible to request exemption from the minimum entry requirement of a pass in mathematics, where mathematics does not form any component of their intended course. This is a separate application to DARE. To apply for a Language Waiver, write to the Admissions Office in Trinity College by 1st July, and include a copy of your disability evidence. If you have an exemption from studying Irish, and you have not been studying a modern foreign language in school, you need to apply to Trinity for a ‘waiver’ for the language part of matriculation. Further details are available here. Even if you have an NUI waiver, you still need to apply to the Admissions Office in Trinity.

Applying for language exemptions to University of Limerick (UL)

Students seeking to enter the University of Limerick are required to present six Leaving Certificate subjects, including English, Mathematics and Irish or one other modern language. Students with significant specific learning difficulties and hearing disabilities may apply for a waiver of the modern language requirement.

Students may receive a waiver of the Irish or modern language requirement if they:

  • function intellectually at average or above average level and have a specific learning difficulty of such a degree of severity that they fail to achieve expected levels of attainment in basic language skills in English, or
  • have a significant hearing impairment or are deaf, and are also failing to attain adequate levels in language skills in English.

The evidence of such a level of disability must be furnished by providing a copy of the Certificate of Exemption from Irish (Revision of Rule 46 “Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools” in relation to Irish – Circular Letter M10/94 – Department of Education). The Certificate should be forwarded directly to the University’s Admissions Office.

The granting of a language waiver does not mean that a student is eligible for the DARE supplementary admissions process, as the criteria used are different.

For further information, please see www.ul.ie/disabilityservices.

Applying for language exemptions to Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Students should apply directly to Mary Immaculate College for a waiver from the language requirements. Language exemptions are not accepted for programmes that require a specific language requirement. Applying for a Language Waiver is a separate application to the DARE supplementary admissions process.

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 Office in the college you are interested in.

If you are being home-schooled, you should provide at least one or more of the following:

  • The EIS completed by your post primary school (if you attended one for any length of time)
  • A letter from the Child & Family Agency (formerly the National Educational Welfare Board) or your Educational Welfare Officer
  • A letter from the Department of Education sanctioning home tuition.
For more information, contact the Access Office in one of the participating colleges

Who is the the DARE access route for?

Check out this page to find out more about DARE and how it might help you

How do I apply?

Click here to find out all you need to know about how to make an application