The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE)

What is DARE?

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.

Who can apply to DARE?

DARE is for school leavers under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2023 with a disability, who have been educationally impacted as a result of that disability. Applicants to DARE can present with an Irish Leaving Certificate, A-Levels and/ or other EU qualifications.

What types of disabilities does DARE consider?

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

Prioritisation of Eligible DARE Applicants with a Physical or Sensory Disability

Research has identified that students with physical and sensory (blind/vision impaired or deaf/hard of hearing) disabilities are particularly under-represented in higher education in Ireland relative to all students with disabilities.  In order to increase the number of DARE students with physical or sensory disabilities being admitted to higher education, the DARE colleges have agreed to prioritise these two groups when allocating reduced points places.

Important Information

Mature applicants and applicants 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.

What are the benefits of making a DARE application?

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 Leaving Certificate points.

How do Reduced Points Work?

An example of a reduced points offer would be where 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, for 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 amount 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.

Can I apply to DARE and HEAR?: Yes

If I am 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 in higher education, facing this 'double disadvantage', colleges participating in DARE and HEAR have agreed to prioritise this group when allocating reduced points places.

DARE Application Timeline

From November 2022

CAO applications open from 4 November 2022 at 12 noon.

  1. Review the DARE Handbook with your parent(s)/guardian(s).
  2. Make a CAO application at
  3. Fill in the online Supplementary Information Form (SIF) at
  4. Complete your Educational Impact Statement with your school.
  5. Gather your Evidence of Disability documentation.

By 1 February 2023

Apply to CAO by 17:00 on 1 February.

By 1 March 2023

You must indicate your wish to be considered for DARE by ticking 'Yes' to Question 1 by 17:00 and complete Section A (Questions 1 - 5) of the Supplementary Information Form (SIF) on

By 15 March 2023

You must return the completed, signed AND stamped

  1. Educational Impact Statement (Section B)
  2. Evidence of Disability (Section C) or other Evidence of Disability to the CAO, Tower House, Eglinton Street, Galway by 17:00. Make sure your documents are clear and can be easily read.  Please number each page and write your CAO application number, name and the date on the front page of each page.

Faxed/emailed documents are not accepted.

April - June 2023

Assessment of DARE applications. 

In late June 2023

You will be notified of the outcome of your DARE application.

DARE Review and Appeals Application.

Early August 2023

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the Review and Appeals application.

August 2023
Leaving Certificate Exam Results.
Eligible DARE applicants compete for reduced points places.
CAO Offers to eligible DARE applicants.
Course offers are made and should be accepted though the CAO.
Late August/Early September 2023 Attend Orientation and register with Disability Support Services.

Is Dare for me?

To be eligible for DARE you must meet both the DARE Educational Impact criteria and DARE Evidence of Disability criteria.

Meeting DARE's Educational Impact Criteria

Has your disability/condition impacted you in a combination of the following indicators:

  1. Have you received intervention or supports in post-primary school?
  2. Has it impacted on your attendance or regularly disrupted your school day?
  3. Has it affected your school experience and wellbeing?
  4. Has it impacted on your learning or exam results?
  5. Has it caused any other educational impact?
  6. Required for applicants with Dyslexia/Significant Literacy Difficulties or Dyscalculia/Significant Numeracy Difficulties: is it severely impacting on your literacy or numeracy scores?

Applicants with Dyslexia/Significant Difficulties or Dyscalculia/Significant Numeracy Difficulties must meet Indicator 6 plus one other indicator.

All other applicants must meet any combination of two indicators from Indicators 1 to 5.

Please see pages 12 - 15 of the Dare Handbook 2023 to view what documentation you are required to submit.

Meeting DARE's Evidence of Disability Criteria

DARE has specific requirments for the evidence of disability documentation for each type of disability or condition.  Please see pages 16 - 20 of the DARE Handbook 2023 to view what documentation you are required to submit.

Detailed information on the evidence of disability criteria which are used to assess your evidence of disability documentation is available under the Providing Evidence of Your Disability Section on 

Where can I find out more information on DARE?

You can contact the CAO Helpdesk with questions on completing a DARE application.  The simplest way to contact the CAO is by clicking on the 'Contact Us' button on  Alternatively, you can call the helpdesk at 091 509 800

Dare will only discuss details of your application with you or your parent(s)/guardian(s).

All participating colleges have a staff member who can advise you on how to apply to DARE.  If you wish to speak to someone about your DARE application, contact any member of the DARE team.  Their contact details are provided here:

Click here for DARE contact details

Click here for a list of participating colleges

DARE and HEAR Application Information Days

Application Information Days will take place online for 2023.  Further information on DARE HEAR application days 2023 will be published on 

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