Other Options


What to do if I don’t get an offer from the CAO or I didn’t apply in the first place?

Getting into popular CAO courses can be difficult for applicants who get modest points in the Leaving Certificate. The good news is there are a wide range of opportunities which will enable you to continue your education beyond school.

Private Colleges

There are a number of private or independent colleges, which apart from offering courses through the CAO also offer programmes for which students may apply directly to the college involved. Many of these courses are validated by bodies outside the State, such as universities in the UK

CAO Vacant Places

If you do not receive an offer from the CAO, you can check out the list of vacant places on the CAO website under the heading “Available/Vacant Places”. These are programmes which have not received sufficient applicants to fill the number of places on offer from the college in question. People who have not applied to the CAO may make an application online for a vacant place. If you have applied already, you simply go into your record in the CAO website and place the vacant course at the top of your CAO application list (free of charge). Applicants for available places must meet the normal entry requirements for the course in question.

UCAS Clearing

Clearing is how UK universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses between July and September each year. It's an ideal way for you to find another course. It is similar to CAO Vacant Places.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses (PLC)

Students apply directly to PLC courses. Minimum academic qualifications for these courses are normally five passes at Leaving Certificate. These courses are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, are closely linked to industry and its needs.

A PLC course will provide you with an excellent opportunity to gain entry to a university or an Institute of Technology, as it will allow you to apply again to the CAO the following year, presenting the result of your PLC course as your method of entry. Many students who earn distinctions in their exams can progress on to higher education.  Check out courses on Qualifax click here

Studying abroad

More and more Irish students are going abroad to study. Many third level institutions across mainland Europe are struggling to fill their courses. Entry requirements are very reasonable, programmes are taught in English and the fees are surprisingly low. Even as late as August there are still places available on courses in countries such as the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Spain, Italy and Norway. The quality of your education combined with an international experience will impress local and global employers. Contact EUNICAS at http://www.eunicas.ie/

A list of useful websites in popular countries can be found here.


An apprenticeship is an opportunity to earn a salary as an employee while gaining valuable knowledge and skills. You will learn both on-the-job and in a college setting while being paid throughout.

Click here for further information.

Repeat Leaving Certificate courses

Repeating the Leaving Cert. may not be right choice for everyone who falls short of being offered a CAO place. Students must ask themselves “Can I really give it more the second time around?” If the answer is most definitely yes, then repeating is the right choice. For hard-working students who have fallen short in their points, repeating may not yield better results. These students are strongly advised to consider any of the above options.

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