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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.



Coolick National School to launch online lotto

A popular primary school in the Killarney area is launching a new fundraising initiative this week to support and improve the education experience of the children it serves. The Coolick […]



A popular primary school in the Killarney area is launching a new fundraising initiative this week to support and improve the education experience of the children it serves.

The Coolick National School Lotto is now live; offering a weekly prize, a weekly jackpot and a range of valuable spot prizes at launch.

Coolick NS first opened its doors in 1870 making it one of the county’s oldest primary schools. The school and pre-school is home to over 130 children from the locality. This is an increase of 20% over the past 5 years taking enrolment to an all-time high.

Coolick NS School Lotto Chairperson and parent, Pádraig Leane says properly resourcing primary school services is crucial:

“The cost of providing education is rising and the school grants provided by the department, although valuable, only do so much. We want to overcome this challenge with our school lotto. The school has a range of immediate needs but also longer-term goals to expand our facilities, add more sports equipment, wellness programmes, student support programmes and increase extra-curricular trips,” he said.

First on the list is a new set of school jerseys, gymnastics mats, replacement of end-of-lfe iPads and further expansion of their Tír na nÓg play area for the younger pupils.
Coolick National School Principal Gearoid O’Sullivan remains focused on providing the best for the children of Coolick.

“As a school we are committed to providing the best equipment, teaching and learning resources, outdoor spaces and a school interior that helps nurture each child. This school lotto will help us with our commitment to provide the very best for the school and especially for the pupils in our care,” said the principal.

The staff and students of Coolick National School are appealing to families, friends, past pupils, members of the local community, stakeholders and supporters to get behind the weekly school lotto. It is hoped that the option of 1 line for €2.50, 2 lines for €4 or 3 lines for €5 will encourage everybody to contribute. A lotto draw will take place each week with a maximum jackpot of €2,000 to be won.

Signing up is easy; through the school’s website

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Live TV audience date with Daniel O’Donnell at INEC

People of Killarney will have the opportunity to participate in a live television audience with Daniel O’Donnell. TG4 television’s highest rating country music series of concerts is coming to the […]




People of Killarney will have the opportunity to participate in a live television audience with Daniel O’Donnell.

TG4 television’s highest rating country music series of concerts is coming to the Gleneagle INEC Arena for the first time from June 17 to 19.

Recorded before a live audience over three nights with two concerts per night, Opry le Daniel offers a different music theme each evening and a host of special guests will join the legendary presenter Daniel O’ Donnell on stage to perform all your favourite songs.

The recordings of the show will be split into two one-hour blocks, taking place throughout each evening.

Now in its 14th year, Ireland’s favourite country music artist O’ Donnell will be joined on stage by Declan Nerney, Cliona Hagan, Mike Denver, Chrissy Mac, Dana and the Donegal balladeers ‘Onóir’ to mention but a few.

Tickets from €30.20 are available from and the Gleneagle INEC Arena box office on 064 6671555.

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