Saturday 20 January 2018

‘Am I too late to apply for a college place?’

It’s not too late, although the opportunities are limited. The normal closing date for application to CAO was February 1, with a late closing date of May 1.

However, some courses end up with vacancies because there are no more qualified applicants on the waiting list for that course. Vacant places are advertised on CAO’s website, . In fact there were 78 courses advertising vacancies, even before the issue of Round One this year.

CAO’s vacant places list closed earlier this month to allow for the processing of the first round of offers. It will open again on Tuesday next, 24 August.

There is no additional application fee for applicants who are already in the CAO system. New applicants must pay an application fee. In order to be eligible for a vacant place, an applicant must satisfy the minimum entry requirements of the course.


Although CAO processes applications for specific courses in a number of leading private colleges, there are many other courses within these colleges to which an applicant may apply directly.

These colleges include the American College, the Dublin Business School, Griffith College Dublin, its sister Griffith College Cork, and Independent Colleges, Dublin 2.

In general, private colleges offer courses in areas such as business studies, computing, marketing, business and legal areas, design, media studies, communications and journalism.

Dublin Business School courses also include Liberal Arts degrees and a Psychology degree as well as the courses formerly offered by Portobello College which it acquired some years ago. These include business degrees and an Irish Law degree. The American College’s courses include a degree in Psychology, while Griffith College offers an Irish law degree, awarded by HETAC, the Irish Higher Education and Training Awards Council. It also offers media studies, and interior design among its courses.

Griffith College’s computing science degree is unique amongst private college degrees in that tuition fees are covered by the Department of Education and Skills for the first two years of the programme.

The courses in Independent Colleges, Dublin 2 include Arts, Journalism, Law, Accounting, Computing, and Psychotherapy, at both undergraduate and post-graduate level. Applications are welcome from school leavers, transfer applicants and mature students, and are made directly to the college’s admission office. Application to one course, IC001, Journalism, is made through the CAO (Central Applications Office).

There are also well established private colleges outside of CAO, the School of Practical Childcare, the Dublin Institute of Design, Dorset College, HSI Limerick Business School in Limerick and others which have a long history of offering excellent, well recognised specialised courses.

While private colleges must charge fees, the eventual cost can be less than that of maintaining a student if their only other choice is to take a college place living away from home or in Britain.


It is possible to apply for vacancies in British colleges. UCAS, the British Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, makes conditional offers to applicants in advance of their exam results.

Universities and other colleges convey their decisions through UCAS to applicants towards the end of March.

If applicants now fail to meet the conditions of their offer, they lose the place, and these places go back into a process called "Clearing" .

UCAS applicants who have not been successful in getting a place are entered for "Clearing" and the onus is on them to contact the institutions.

Anybody may apply for a place in "Clearing", even people who have not applied to UCAS so far. Application may be made online through the UCAS website,

Irish Independent

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