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Third-level admissions scheme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds

Information

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is an admissions scheme for students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The scheme aims to improve access to college for school-leavers from socio-economic backgrounds that are under-represented in third-level education. Under the HEAR scheme a number of third-level places are allocated to school-leavers on a reduced points basis. To be eligible for the scheme you must meet certain indicators or criteria related to your financial, social and cultural circumstances – see ‘Indicators’ below.

How the scheme works

Each of the third-level colleges participating in the scheme has reserved a number of places on its courses for school-leavers who are eligible for HEAR. You can find details of the places available through HEAR on the websites of the participating third-level colleges.

You apply for HEAR through the Central Applications Office (CAO) – see ‘How to apply’ below. Once you have been accepted as eligible for HEAR, you then compete for the reduced point places based on your Leaving Certificate results. A reduced point place means that you may get a place on a third-level course with fewer than the full CAO points. For example, if you are eligible for HEAR and you get 430 Leaving Certificate points, you may be offered a place on a course that is 470 points through CAO. However, you must meet the college matriculation and any specific course entry requirements.

Additional supports

If you get a place through HEAR you will also be offered a range of supports while you are studying at college, such as an orientation programme, extra tuition, study skills and mentoring. The supports available will vary from college to college.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for HEAR you must meet certain indicators or criteria related to your financial, social and economic circumstances.

You must also be under 23 years of age on 1 January of the year the course starts.

Indicators

  • Financial (for entry autumn 2014):
  • 1. Income: Your total family income for the year 2012 was within the HEAR income limits (see table below)
  • 2. Medical card: You, your parent(s) or guardian(s) hold a medical card or GP visit card on 31 December 2013
  • 3. Social welfare: Your parent(s) or guardian(s) were getting a means-tested social assistance payment for at least 26 weeks in 2012
  • Social and cultural:

HEAR income limits 2014

Number of dependent children* in your family

Family income in 2012

Fewer than 4 €48,811
4-7 €53,637
More than 8 €58,230
Add €4,980 to the total income for every sibling/parent enrolled in a full-time college, university or Post-Leaving Certificate further education course.

*A 'dependent child' is a child under age 16 on 1 October 2013 or a parent or child over 16 who is attending a full-time educational institution or is medically certified as permanently unfit for work.

Fulfilling the indicator requirement

Of the 6 indicators above you must meet the low income indicator 1 and a combination of 2 other indicators. There are 4 different combinations as follows:

A Indicator 1 Plus 2 Plus 4 or 5 or 6
B Indicator 1 Plus 3 Plus 4 or 5 or 6
C Indicator 1 Plus 4 Plus 5 or 6
D Indicator 1 Plus 5 plus 6

Documentation required

As part of your application you must provide documentation to show that you meet the required indicators. Examples of the documentation required are:

  • P21 or Notice of Assessment from the Revenue Commissioners for 2011 (you can request this from Revenue)
  • Statement of welfare benefits received from the Department of Social Protection in 2011 (download this page from your online HEAR application form)
  • Confirmation from your Local Health Office of a medical or GP visit card valid on 31 December 2013 (download this page from your online HEAR application form)

How to apply

If you wish to apply for a college place under the HEAR scheme you should apply online through the CAO. The closing date for admission in autumn 2014 is 1 February 2014.

When you are filling in the online CAO form you must complete the part of the form to say you wish to apply for the HEAR scheme. You will then be directed to a separate HEAR application form. You must complete this part of your application by 1 March 2014.

Then on the HEAR application form you must answer questions on your family’s income, your parents’ employment status and the schools you attended.

By 1 April 2014 your supporting documents must reach the CAO, providing evidence of your circumstances. No applications will be accepted after the closing dates. The closing dates are very strict because HEAR is an additional application procedure which needs extra processing time.

You will get a letter in late June 2014 (after the Leaving Certificate examination) telling you whether you are eligible for the scheme. If you are told you are not eligible you can ask for your application to be reviewed. Your HEAR application does not affect your CAO application, which will be processed in the usual way after you get your Leaving Certificate results.

The CAO helpline at (091) 509 800 can assist school-leavers with their HEAR application. You can find further information in this list of frequently asked questions on the Access College website. You can also contact the access services of the colleges participating in the HEAR scheme.

The HEAR programme runs nationwide information sessions which aim to answer questions that students (or their parents/guardians) may have about preparing the application for HEAR.

You can download application guide and workbooks to help with your application.

You can also access information about HEAR on Twitter and Facebook.

Where to apply

Central Applications Office

Tower House
Eglinton Street
Galway
Ireland

Opening Hours:Office Hours 9:30-17:15
Tel:(091) 509 800
Fax:(091) 562 344
Homepage: http://www.cao.ie

Page updated: 5 December 2013

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.