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Applying for higher education supports




By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

Getting into college is a challenge for many students, one which is all the more difficult for anyone who has had their second level education impacted by illness, disability or learning difficulties.


The Disability Access Route to Education scheme (DARE) seeks to level the playing field for such students by providing pre and post entry supports when applying to participating Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) through the Central Applications Office (CAO) and is open to school leavers who meet the eligibility criteria and are under the age of 23 as of January 1, 2022. To be deemed eligible for DARE students need to meet the Educational Impact Criteria and the Evidence of Disability Criteria.

As part of pre-entry supports the DARE scheme offers reduced points places to eligible students under the following categories - Autistic Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger’s Syndrome), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD and ADHD), Blind/Vision Impaired, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, DCD – Dyspraxia, Mental Health Condition, Neurological Condition, Speech & Language Communications Disorder, Significant Ongoing Illness, Physical Disability, Specific Learning Difficulty. To find out more information on the eligibility criteria under each category, see The reduction in points for DARE places can vary each year and applicants must still meet the minimum subject specific requirements for their chosen courses.

Deadlines and Application Process

The first step is to apply to the CAO via, which is now open, by February 1, 2022. Once this is done, DARE applicants have until March 1 to indicate that they wish to be considered for the scheme and to complete Section A of the Supplementary Information Form (SIF) which includes a short personal statement about the impact of the illness, disability or learning difficulty on their education. By March 15, Sections B and C must be completed, signed, stamped and returned to CAO by post. Faxed or emailed documents will not be accepted. This supporting documentation is used to establish whether or not an applicant meets the eligibility criteria for DARE and it is used by the colleges and universities to determine the kinds of supports that might be needed on entry to college. Section B, the Educational Impact Statement (EIS) must be completed by the school, indicating how the illness, disability or learning difficulty has impacted on the second level experience of the applicant. Section C looks for the provision of Evidence of Disability Documentation from the appropriate professional and can be provided in a number of ways – an existing report from the appropriate professional or a completed Evidence of Disability Form 2022 which can be downloaded from or In addition, some evidence may be required to have been completed in a particular timeframe. All deadlines are strict and non-negotiable so it is important to start applications well in advance of the final dates, to avoid unnecessary stress.


As well as reduced points, there are lots of other supports offered to students who qualify for DARE and may include some of the following: orientation programmes, learning support, assistive technology, library support, exam accommodations, educational support worker and academic tuition. The provision of such supports seeks to level the playing pitch for entry to and access through higher education by widening opportunities for students who have a significant challenge in terms of their participation, experience and learning in secondary school.

Information events on DARE take place in various HEIs throughout the year, so check out college websites and social media for details. On Saturday January 8, 2022 a series of information sessions will take place in HEIs nationally for applicants and parents. For further details on information events and on the DARE scheme itself, as well as contact details for DARE support staff in the various colleges, see

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see

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Eight month wait for a driving test in Killarney

A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at […]




A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney

The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at eight months.

Cllr John O’Donoghue raised the issue at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council.

He proposed that driving instructors should be employed to carry out the final test to reduce the current backlog.

At Monday’s meeting he asked that hat Kerry County Council would write to the Minister for Transport to ask him to consider giving driving instructors temporary powers to issue a temporary Driving Licence/Certificate of Competence to those on the waiting list for tests.

“The wait is currently far too long and the system is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“The huge waiting list for young drivers is well documented at this stage. In a case I am familiar with, a young person passed their theory test in January 2022 and he immediately applied for his mandatory 12 driving lessons. When these were completed, he applied for his driving test on the 2nd of December 2022. Some weeks ago, he still had not received an application to apply for his driving test. This wait is placing him and his family under considerable extra cost and stress which is completely unacceptable.”

In the course of his research into the matter Cllr O’Donoghue discovered that the next available date for a driving test in Killarney is May 25, 2024, while Tralee is June 3 2024.

“Bear in mind, these are only the dates on which you receive an invitation to book your test, the test itself will then be an estimated three to five weeks later.

“This is an appalling situation and one which needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency. I am proposing that driving instructors, which presumably are fully trained up on the rules of the road, be granted temporary powers to be allowed to issue temporary driving licences to young people. When the waiting list time has been reduced, I would still propose that these people sit the test as usual, but the current pressure needs to be alleviated as soon as possible. There is precedent as I believe that in the 1970s, a cohort in this country were issued driving licences without having sat a test as the wait time for the test was too long.”


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Ballymac charity vintage run on October 1

The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1. The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac. Registration […]




The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1.

The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac.

Registration begins at 9:30am and sets off at 11am.

“There will be two separate routes with one for tractors and the other for cars and motorbikes. Proceeds on the day are in aid of Castleisland Day Care Centre and we’ll have plenty of spot prizes to giveaway too in the morning,” said the club’s PRO Kieran Glover.


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