What is HEAR?

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a college and university scheme that offers places on reduced points and extra college support to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are resident in the Republic of Ireland. HEAR has been set up by a number of colleges and universities, as evidence shows that socio-economic disadvantage can have a negative effect on how well a student does at school and whether they go on to college. HEAR applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators to be considered for a reduced points place and extra college support.

HEAR is for school leavers under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2022 who are resident in the Republic of Ireland. Mature and FET (Further Education and Training) students have their own admissions routes and should contact college admissions offices for more information. Applications to HEAR can only be made online through the CAO.

About HEAR. Video

Benefits of HEAR

Reduced Points

If you apply to HEAR and meet the application criteria (that is, are deemed eligible for HEAR) 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 HEAR 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 HEAR 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 HEAR reduced points offer. The reduction in points for HEAR 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 HEAR places on the course.
  • The number of HEAR 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 HEAR students for those places is available on some HEI websites and on the page of each of the participating colleges on this website.

College Supports

If you get a place through HEAR, you will receive a variety of academic, personal and social supports while at college.

College supports may include:

  • An Orientation Programme to introduce you to university/college.
  • Extra tuition if required, study skills and exam preparation.
  • One-to-one meetings with student advisers.
  • Social gatherings/mentoring.
  • Extra financial assistance when available/ advice regarding grants and scholarships.

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.

What HEAR is not

HEAR is not your maintenance grant (SUSI grant). The maintenance grant is the main source of financial assistance available from the Irish State for students in full-time Post Leaving Certificate Courses (PLCs) and full-time higher education undergraduate courses. HEAR is an admissions scheme to help students who may not traditionally go on to third level.

Financial Assistance and SUSI

Students applying to HEAR 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.

Email: support@susi.ie

Telephone helpdesk: 0761 087 874