Sunday 18 February 2018

Help! I have no offer, what can I do now?

Students receive their second round CAO offers today. Picture posed.
Students receive their second round CAO offers today. Picture posed.

Aoife Walsh

If you have not received an offer, or an offer that you wish to accept, there are options available to you.

CAO vacant places

Every year, there are CAO courses with more places available than qualified applicants, and the 2014 list is now open for applications. The CAO posts the regularly updated, list under Available Places on its website and the facility will remain open until mid-October, or until all places are filled.

A student who wishes to apply may do so whether or not they have already made a CAO application, or received an offer.

UK universities/UCAS Clearing

Universities in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales are currently going through a process called Clearing, where any places that are available may be applied for by any student, whether they have already applied for UCAS or not. There are nearly 350 institutions offering courses in Clearing at the moment.

Students must apply to UCAS by September 20 and Clearing finishes on September 30. The earlier the application the more options, as places are filled daily

A potential applicant may research available courses on - by keyword, course, institution and even county or area. Check entry requirements on courses and contact the admissions office of the institution.

Once an informal offer is received, a student can fill in the details of the course on the online application so UCAS can process a formal offer.

Appeals and Rechecks

Many who were disappointed not to receive a preferred CAO choice will be hoping that an upgrade in the Leaving Cert appeals process will result in a late offer. The results of the rechecks will not be available until mid October. This means that even if a student is successful they will have missed a number of weeks of term. They may also have organised accommodation, or paid fees, in the case of a private college, not to mention met new friends and settled into the course they are pursuing.

If a student receives an upgrade, the State Examinations Commission will pass this information on to the CAO. The CAO will then contact the student with information about any offer to which they are then entitled. In most cases it is possible for students to begin courses immediately. In some cases, they may be asked to defer until next year.

PLC/Further Education colleges

There are further education (FE) colleges located all over the country, managed by the local Education and Training Boards (ETB) offering post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses in a wide variety of areas, which can be used as a stepping stone to third-level. Courses are mostly offered at FETAC level 5, which can be completed in one year. Many colleges still have places available. Anyone interested should contact a local college as soon as possible. (See also page 10)


A student considering repeating the Leaving Cert. should speak to a guidance counsellor. Students should consider the following before committing to such a large undertaking: Did I do my best the first time? Am I likely to be able to do better? How much of the course will have changed? Are their any other routes into my chosen career including postgraduate study?

A student who decides to repeat should give consideration to where might be the best place. A return to the same school may be possible but it means back to second-level with all its rules and restrictions. Some schools, such as, in Dublin, O'Connell's, St Joseph's, Marino and Marian College, Ballsbridge, have a dedicated repeat year where students work in an environment that offers a little more freedom.

Schools in the Education and Training Board (ETB) sector (formerly VECs) are worth checking out, while private, "grind" schools also offer a repeat year, although fees are payable.

Irish Independent

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