A series of information sessions is planned throughout the country over the next few weeks for two special access routes for CAO college applicants.
These two access schemes, called HEAR and DARE, have been operating for some time, but they are being established in a more formal way as part of the college application process. CAO's website provides links to each scheme.
"HEAR" (the Higher Education Access Route) is a third-level admissions scheme for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. T
he Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a development of this supplementary admissions scheme for school leavers with disabilities.
Under HEAR, each of the seven universities, the DIT and the seven colleges of education allocates a quota of places on a reduced points basis for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Students are offered a range of academic and personal supports while at college
Until now, the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) scheme was primarily reserved for students from second-level schools that are part of what the Department of Education and Science describes as the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity In Schools) scheme.
The route has now been extended to include all 730 secondary schools in Ireland.
Q What colleges offer access through "HEAR"?
A DCU, DIT, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, TCD, UCD, UCC, UL, Coláiste Mhuire Marino, Church of Ireland College of Education, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Mater Dei Institute of Education, St Angela's College, Sligo, and St Patrick's College, Drumcondra.
Q How do you know if you are entitled to apply through "HEAR"?
A Each "HEAR" applicant is assessed in relation to six criteria or indicators, and they must satisfy a number of these.
The first of these is low family income, and all applicants must meet this indicator or condition.
The other conditions are that applicants' families receive social welfare payments or hold medical cards; the applicant is a member of a socio-economic grouping group underrepresented in college; or that an applicant attended a DEIS school; or finally, the applicant lives in an area of concentrated disadvantage.
Higher education institutions are also anxious to make appropriate provision for applicants who have difficulties with a medical or physical condition, or a specific learning disability.
CAO's application process encourages applicants to bring any learning difficulty or disability to the attention of the higher education institutions to which they are applying.
Colleges have developed the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) for school leavers who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education but who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course due to the impact of a disability.
Students suffering from any of the following conditions are eligible for consideration under the DARE scheme: Asperger's Syndrome / Autism; Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Blind/Vision Impaired; Deaf/Hearing Impaired; Dyspraxia; Mental Health Condition; Neurological Conditions (including Brain Injury, Speech and Language Disabilities); Significant Ongoing Illness; Physical Disability; Specific Learning Difficulty (including Dyslexia); other disabilities.
NB The HEAR and DARE application information sessions planned for this week have been cancelled due to the inclement weather. For updated information, check the events section of Qualifax website, www.qualifax.ie