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What is the CAO?


The Central Applications Office (CAO) is the central contact point for your application for undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). All essential information about decisions on admissions to undergraduate courses are made by the HEIs who instruct CAO to make offers to successful candidates.

25 August 2023 Leaving Certificate results issued
30 August 2023 (14:00) Round 1 offers available from 14:00 online - also issued by e-mail and SMS text.  Applicants who have not receive an offer will receive a 'Statement of Application' e-mail
31 August 2023  (12:00) Available Place facility opens
5 September 2023 (15:00) Round 1 acceptances closing date
11 September 2023 (14:00) Round 2 offers available online
13 September 2023 (15:00) Round 2 acceptances closing date
19 September 2023 (10:00) Round 3 offers available online - applicants will also receive an offer notification by e-mail and SMS text
21 September 2023 (15:00) Round 3 acceptances closing date
26 September 2023 (10:00) Round 4 offers available online - applicants will also receive an offer notification by e-mail and SMS text
28 September 2023 (15:00) Round 4 acceptances closing date
3 October 2023 (10:00) Round 5 offers available online - applicants will also receive an offer notification by e-mail and SMS text
5 October 2023 (15:00) Round 5 acceptances closing date
  • HEIs begin registration
  • Results of Leaving Certificate appeals released
5 October 2023 Offer season ends
6 November 2023 CAO application facility opens for 2024 applications


Getting into popular CAO courses can be difficult if you don't gain the necessary 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, as well as 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.


Search courses here


CAO Available 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)

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.


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.


You can search for PLC courses here


Studying abroad

More and more Irish students are going abroad to study. 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. 


You can find more information 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.


Find out more here.


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 the options listed above.