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Applying to College/Further Education

Application to Third Level

All colleges welcome applications from students with disabilities, and aim to achieve a situation where no student who would otherwise gain admission will be prevented from doing so by reason of disability.

The Disability Support Service in the college should be the first point of contact. This service can provide valuable information and support about application procedures and also advise on available supports within the college.

CAO Application

All applications to third level colleges are processed centrally through the CAO system, including those of students with disabilities such as dyslexia who may be seeking additional support or alternative entry.

A student’s disability should be noted when making application on the CAO form.  This notifies the colleges that the student is applying to, and gives them time to contact each student to find out what special requirements or considerations they may need.

In the case of students with dyslexia, the colleges (through the CAO) will ask the student to submit an up-to-date psycho-educational assessment report (not more than 3 years old) which illustrates their dyslexic profile and details their learning support requirements at third level.

Some colleges offer an alternative entry route called D.A.R.E., the Disability Access Route to Higher Education ( ). This is targeted to students with disabilities, including significant dyslexia (students must generally have two literacy or numeracy scores below the 10th percentile to qualify).  Alternative entry can allow access to courses by students who would otherwise not have access. It recognises the impact of the disability on points, i.e. that the student with dyslexia may not reach the points required.  Through the alternative entry route, colleges can assess students’ suitability and aptitude for courses on an individual basis.  School leavers who wish to be considered for DARE must apply as part of their CAO application ( before February 1st.  They will be asked to complete a Supplementary Information Form.

Many students who applied to D.A.R.E. in previous years were ineligible because they failed to submit appropriate evidence of disability documentation. Further information on D.A.R.E. can be found on their website including details on criteria.  Contact details for all the participating colleges are included on the website, and colleges are happy to be contacted to discuss any queries. D.A.R.E. is only about access to college, not about assessing what supports a student may get in college.

Exemptions from language entry requirements is covered in the Language subsection.

While some courses can only be accessed directly through a degree course entry (e.g. medicine), many others can be accessed through the P.L.C. to Diploma to Degree route. This ladder system may take a year or two more, but the end result is the same. A degree is a degree, and whether it takes 3, 4 or 5 years to achieve, the end result is the same.

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DAI activities are part-funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 administered by Pobal), the Special Education Section of the Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and KWETB.