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HEAR and DARE offer reduced points and extra support




By Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor

Getting into college is a challenge for many students but it is more difficult for those who have faced extra obstacles.

There are two schemes that can be applied for through CAO which are in place to level the playing field for students applying to higher education, taking account of disadvantages and challenges they have faced.

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is targeted at students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds while the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) supports students who have had their second level education impacted by illness, disability or learning difficulties. In the case of both schemes, students must meet the minimum entry requirements and specific course requirements for the particular colleges and courses. Over the years I have seen the enormous benefits for students who avail of these and other access routes and the support of staff in access offices in the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is invaluable to applicants and parents.

Disability Access Route to Education

Students can apply for DARE 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 be deemed eligible for DARE, students need to meet the Educational Impact Criteria and the Evidence of Disability Criteria. The reduction in points for DARE places varies. All students with a verified disability or learning difficulty, regardless of whether they have come through DARE or not, can avail of supports which may include some of the following: orientation programmes, learning support, assistive technology, library support, exam accommodations, educational and academic support.

Higher Access to Education Route

The HEAR scheme is targeted at groups who are under-represented in higher education and as well as offering reduced points it also offers a number of academic, personal and social supports throughout the student’s journey in college. Many applicants do achieve the required points each year. To be eligible, applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators. Students must meet Indicator 1 (HEAR Income Limit) and a specific combination of two other indicators which include – medical/GP visit cards, means-tested social welfare payments, occupation status of parent or guardian (socio-economic group), disadvantaged status of the school (DEIS) and local area. Other factors considered include young people who are in the care of the State, HSE or TUSLA. Students and parents sometimes confuse the HEAR scheme with the student grant. Students who are eligible for grants (and who may or may not be eligible for HEAR) must apply separately to Supports provided to eligible students include an orientation, extra tuition if needed, study skills and exam preparation, one-to-one meetings with student advisors, social gatherings (when permitted), mentoring and extra financial assistance when available as well as advice regarding grants and scholarships.

Deadlines and Application Process

Applicants who want to apply for either the HEAR or DARE schemes must have registered for CAO by the February 1 deadline. Once this has been done, HEAR and DARE applicants have until March 1 to indicate that they wish to be considered for the schemes and to complete the relevant forms online through their CAO account. Then all supporting documentation must be posted to arrive with CAO by 5pm on March 15. 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. The mid-term break is the ideal time to work on these applications and to gather together the supporting documentation needed. It is advisable to keep copies of all documents sent to CAO and get a certificate of postage. Applicants will find out if they are eligible at the end of June, before the July 1 deadline via their CAO accounts. Comprehensive information on both the HEAR and the DARE schemes can be found on and

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore and a member of Kerry Branch of IGC. See or follow @mycareerplan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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MTU hosts Active Ageing Festival at Kerry Sports Academy

Young students got to share their learning skills while an older group showed patience and experience during the ‘Active Ageing Festival’. Held in Munster Technological University last week the event, […]



Young students got to share their learning skills while an older group showed patience and experience during the ‘Active Ageing Festival’.

Held in Munster Technological University last week the event, in conjunction with Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership (KRSP), saw 150 people engaged with a busy schedule of activities, facilitated by the students and staff of the Department of Health and Leisure Studies.

Dr Barry Moynihan, Consultant Geriatrician in University Hospital Kerry opened the event with an informative talk on the importance of movement as we age.

Many community organisations and networks were represented on the day such as HSE, Baile Mhuire, Kerry Library, Kerry Call, SeanChairde, Centre of Smart Ageing, Probus and Age and Opportunity.

Activities such as Pickleball, Bowls, Better Balance Better Bones, Dance and Yoga were also showcased.

Gearoid O’Doherty, coordinator of the KRSP, highlighted the need for more community-based activities for older adults across Kerry and the role of the partnership in supporting this development.

It is hoped that other venues across the county can facilitate a similar event in the future.

MTU lecturer and event coordinator Eimear Foley, spoke of the mutual benefit that this day provided to both participants and students.

“The real-life experience afforded to the students is immense, with involvement in planning, delivering and evaluation of the event to the fore.”

Within their course, the concept of being active across the lifespan is embedded and this opportunity for the students to engage in real life learning is paramount. Older people can generate community-based learning experiences not only for themselves but also for the young. Many of the participants commented on the professionalism, warmth and enthusiasm of the students, whilst the students were delighted with the patience shown to them and ease of conversation with the participants.

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Killarney to feature on TG4’s Country Music show

By Sean Moriarty A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday). The second series of […]




By Sean Moriarty

A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday).

The second series of the Irish channel’s County Music show ‘Viva Ceol Tire’, which highlights emerging Country Music talent in Ireland, airs every Tuesday night at 9.30pm.

The next programme will feature Donegal singer David James’ version of ‘Oh Killarney’.

The programme was filmed entirely on location in Killarney including Torc Waterfall, Ladies View Moll’s Gap and Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

“The song was written by Dennis Allen. However, it was a hit for Dermot Moriarty in the 1980s. The first time I heard it I loved it and I was thrilled with the reaction my version has got,” James, who is from the small village of Killean in Donegal, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It’s pretty rural but I love it. I’ll be in Country Music 10 years this May. My first gig was in the local GAA hall for my aunt’s 50th birthday. I was 14 and I’ve been at it ever since.”



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