Over 1,000 to get into college on reduced points
MORE than 1,000 students are expected to get into college this year on reduced CAO points due to disadvantage or disability, the Irish Independent has learned.
In some cases they will get into courses with 40 points less than other Leaving Certificate applicants.
For instance, where a course has a cut-off of 450 points, a certain percentage of students will get in on 410 points.
They enter first year through special schemes aimed at the disadvantaged and those with disabilities.
Places are reserved on many courses on the basis of reduced points but the students have to meet normal subject requirements such as the maths requirement for engineering.
Last year around 900 entered on two special schemes, and the figure is expected to be much higher this year.
The biggest number come through the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR). Last year there were 1,358 eligible applicants, of whom 871 received offers and 682 accepted places. The number of eligible applicants this year is up to 1,936.
To be eligible, a student must be from a low-income family and meet two other criteria such as coming from a disadvantaged school or area, from a particular socio-economic group or from a family on social welfare or with a medical card.
The colleges involved in the scheme are the seven universities, DIT and the seven teacher-training colleges.
The second scheme is called the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE). This had 701 eligible applicants last year, of whom 137 accepted places. This year the number of eligible applicants is up to 931. The scheme is run by the universities, Athlone Institute of Technology, DIT, National College of Ireland and Mater Dei Institute.
HEAR and DARE students get a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying, including an orientation programme, extra tuition, help with study skills and exam preparation, one-to-one meetings with student advisers and advice regarding grants and scholarships.
Other students from disadvantaged backgrounds who had disabilities also entered college last year, without the need for lower entry points.
Final CAO application figures show that, this year, 14,696 applicants out of a total of 77,628 are over 23 years of age, more than 3,000 up on last year.
They also confirm that a substantial number of this year's Leaving Cert class did not apply to the CAO. This year, 55,422 entered to sit the Leaving Cert, of whom 45,485 applied to the CAO. This means that 10,000 have no plans to try to get into higher education.
The figures also reveal that 20,000 applicants this year presented Leaving Cert results from the years 1985 to 2009.
This year's Leaving Cert results will be available next Wednesday with the first round of offers published the following Monday, August 23.