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Third level supports for school leavers




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

The Higher Access to Education Route (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.

To be eligible, applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators. Students must meet Indicator 1 (low income) and a specific combination of two other indicators which include – medical/GP visit cards, means-tested Social Welfare payments, occupation status of parent of 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.


A number of places are reserved in higher education courses for applicants who qualify for HEAR. This means that it is possible for applicants to get offered a place if they have not made the cut-off points, however many HEAR applicants do achieve the required points each year. It is important to note that applicants must still meet the minimum and subject requirements for the particular course. 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

Once students have applied to the CAO on by the February 1 deadline, they then have until March 1 to indicate that they wish to be considered for the HEAR scheme and to complete the HEAR form through their CAO account. After this, 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 supporting documentation required for HEAR applicants will depend on the individual circumstances of the household. It is important to keep photocopies of all documents being posted, put the applicant name and CAO number on each document that is sent, as well as getting proof of postage.

The HEAR scheme seeks to widen opportunities in higher education for students coming from a group that is under-represented in higher education. Supports offered through the scheme not only assist students to get into college but also help them to settle in and get through the course. This ensures that students who have faced personal and educational disadvantage and challenges get every chance to achieve their qualification and progress onto successful careers. Over the years I have seen the enormous benefits for students who avail of HEAR and other access routes and the support of staff in Access offices in the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is invaluable to applicants and parents. For further details see,, and individual HEI websites.

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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Wine, art and lots of catching up at popular fundraiser

By Michelle Crean Spirits were high and the atmosphere electric at this year’s Wine & Art Night which had a huge attendance on Wednesday night. Over 50 exhibitors gathered in […]




By Michelle Crean

Spirits were high and the atmosphere electric at this year’s Wine & Art Night which had a huge attendance on Wednesday night.

Over 50 exhibitors gathered in the Great Southern Killarney as the Killarney Rotary Club’s fundraising event – which is one of the biggest in the town each year – was back after a COVID break.

During the afternoon the artists and crafters, many who travelled from all over Kerry, Clare, Cork and even Waterford this year, organised their display for the event. Later that evening there were a lot of familiar faces but also some new people who absolutely loved the evening.

There were many wines available to taste as well as cheese and breads at the event which is run in conjunction with Daly’s SuperValu, Killarney and Killarney Brewing Company.

“There was a huge attendance and everybody was in good spirits to be back to normal,” President of Rotary, Rayla Tadjimatova, said.

“Many of the patrons were buying some art as Christmas presents and the members of Rotary were delighted to be kept busy packing these. A portion of all art sales goes to the fundraiser. One local young man, who is only 16, exhibited his beautiful photographs of local scenic areas. There was an auction of donated works of art and a Kerry Jersey. All one hundred percent of the proceeds from this auction goes to the fundraiser.”

Mike Neeson entertained the crowd on arrival and right until the end of the night.

“Mike is a great supporter of our events and we would like to thank him for keeping everybody entertained.”

The Irish Pilgrimage Trust ran the raffle and they had some wonderful hampers and gifts to be won.

Beneficiaries from this year’s event are: Coolick NS, Gaelscoil Faithleann NS, Knockanes NS, Holy Cross Mercy NS, St Francis Special School, Kerry Stars, Killarney Athletic AFC, and Killarney Cougars Basketball Club.

She thanked everybody for attending and everyone for their help organising the event.

Some, she added, had never been before and said they did not know what exactly the night involved but will definitely be back again next time as it was “so enjoyable”.

“We hope the money raised will help the beneficiaries to proceed with projects,” she said.

“We are delighted for Rotary to be able to help these charities, community groups and schools through our fundraising event.”

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Comedy drama ready for the stage

By Michelle Crean Get out your diary and book in these December dates as Dochas Drama Group is ready to take to the stage. What does a hypochondriac, a grumpy […]




By Michelle Crean

Get out your diary and book in these December dates as Dochas Drama Group is ready to take to the stage.

What does a hypochondriac, a grumpy father and a confused visitor to the dentist, all have in common? You’ll have to come along to the Killarney Avenue Hotel on Monday, December 12, Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 at 8pm to find out.

The popular drama group will present their three new comedies featuring the work of playwrights Brian Bowler, Ger Madden and Mary Quirke.Come along for a night filled with fun and laughter. Just the right beginning to the festive season. Doors open at 7.15pm and tickets are available at the door. All tickets; adults, seniors, students and children are €10. Don’t miss a great night out.


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