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Deferring your CAO offer and taking the place in 2023 is an option

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The scarcity of student accommodation this year may be just one reason to defer your CAO offer

The scarcity of student accommodation this year may be just one reason to defer your CAO offer

The scarcity of student accommodation this year may be just one reason to defer your CAO offer

There are many reasons why a young person may consider deferring a CAO offer. This may include hoping to work for a year, trying out other experiences and travel. This year, some students may wish to defer because they may not be able to find or afford accommodation.

For candidates who think accessing accommodation may be a barrier to taking up an offer they would otherwise accept, I would highly recommend deferring rather than turning that offer down.

The deferral facility allows a successful applicant to request to delay entry until autumn 2023.

Gap years can be hugely beneficial to young people and present an opportunity to gain work experience, develop transferable skills or explore other interests. Students have used this option to do some very interesting things, adding to their likelihood of succeeding at third-level.

No applicant is guaranteed a deferral, and granting one is at the discretion of the institution. However, most colleges are fairly open to it. The LM101 (Graduate Medicine, University of Limerick) course will only grant a deferral in very exceptional circumstances.

Anyone considering a deferral should think carefully and ensure that, if they choose this option, it is for the right reasons. It is also important to have a plan for how this year will be spent.

It may be prudent to talk to family and friends or the school guidance counsellor. The National Parents Council Post Primary helpline – 1800 265 165 – is staffed by guidance counsellors, who can also advise.

Although anyone thinking about deferring should take time to consider carefully, they should also begin preparation immediately.

First, applicants should not accept the offer. Instead, contact the admissions office of the institution immediately, and in writing. Do this by email placing ‘deferred entry’ in the subject bar, or by post, writing ‘deferred entry’ clearly on the envelope. The applicant should also provide the college with their name, CAO number and the CAO code for the course they have been offered.

If the institution is willing to grant a deferral, they will let the applicant know what they need to do. These instructions should be followed exactly. If a higher preference course becomes available in a later round, the applicant will receive this offer even if they have deferred an earlier one. The applicant is free to accept this higher preference or request a deferral of that place. For more information on deferring, see the CAO handbook on cao.ie

Many institutions do not look favourably on applications for deferral to allow the student to take up another course or to repeat the Leaving Cert.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin


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