DARE admissions scheme for students with disabilities

What is DARE?

The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) supports students with disabilities to access college.

There are several support systems for students with disabilities who are undertaking courses at third level. Many third-level colleges have a disability or access service which is responsible for giving support and advice to students with disabilities.

The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) has information about student services. It also has information about accessing college.

DARE 2024-2025

You must apply for CAO by 5pm, 1 February 2024. You must submit your completed application for DARE by 5pm, 1 March 2024. You must submit all your supporting documents by 5pm, 15 March 2024.

Telling the college about your disability

If you have a disability, a specific learning difficulty or a significant ongoing illness, you can let the third-level institution know about it - either during the application process or at any time during your course - so that they can consider, in consultation with yourself, any specific support needs you may have in college.

If you choose to give this information during the application process (though you are not obliged to do this) you should tick the relevant box on your application form to the Central Applications Office (CAO). Giving this information on the form will not adversely affect your application in any way. In fact, it is by ticking this box that you get the option of the Disability Access Route to Education - see below.

How the DARE scheme works

The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) aims to improve access to college for school-leavers with a disability or specific learning difficulty by allocating a number of third-level places to them on a reduced points basis.

How to qualify for DARE

If your disability has negatively affected your second-level education, you may qualify for DARE. To be considered for DARE, you must:

Read more in ‘How to apply for DARE’ below.

When you have been accepted as eligible for DARE, 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 DARE and you get 350 Leaving Certificate points, you may be offered a place on a course that requires 360 points through the standard CAO procedure. However, you must meet the college matriculation requirements and any specific course entry requirements.

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

Additional supports

Whether you apply for college through DARE or through the standard CAO procedure, there are supports for student with disabilities while they are at college.

Supports available vary from college to college but may include:

  • Orientation programme
  • Study skills and extra tuition if required
  • Access to assistive technology and training
  • Mentoring.

How to apply for DARE

If you wish to apply for a college place under the DARE scheme you should apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO). When you are filling in the CAO form online you must complete the part of the form to say that you have a disability or specific learning difficulty.

You will then be directed to the separate online Supplementary Information Form.

You can request a paper version of the form from the CAO.

The Supplementary Information Form has 3 sections:

  • Section A asks for information on your disability and if you wish to be considered for DARE.
  • Section B is an Educational Impact Statement, to be completed by your school. It provides information about your educational experience and assists the decision about the third-level supports you need.
  • Section C is Evidence of Disability which must be completed by the accepted medical consultant or specialist for your particular disability. It provides verification of your disability and helps the decision about the third-level supports that you need. Sections B and C can only be sent to the CAO in paper form. The CAO advises all students to get a certificate of posting when sending documents by post.

Supports for students with disabilities

If you have indicated on your CAO form that you have a disability or specific learning difficulty, the college's Disability Service will be informed as soon as you accept a place, and they will get in touch with you to work out what supports they can provide.

Even if you didn't tick this box on the CAO form, you can still access the available supports by contacting the college's Disability Service at any stage during your time in college.

Key dates for 2024 applications using DARE

6 November 2023 - the online CAO application facility for 2024 opens.

1 February 2024 - your main application must reach the CAO by 5 p.m. Late CAO applications are not considered for DARE.

1 March 2024 - the following items must reach the CAO by 5 p.m.

  • Indicate that you wish to be considered for DARE by ticking 'Yes' on question 1.
  • Complete Section A of the Supplementary Information Form.

15 March 2024, the rest of the Supplementary Information Form must reach the CAO by 5 p.m. These are:

  • Section B (the Educational Impact Statement)
  • Section C (evidence of a disability)

No applications will be accepted after these closing dates. The closing dates are very strict because DARE is an additional application procedure which needs extra processing time.

You should be notified by post by the end of June 2024 (after the Leaving Certificate exam) telling you whether you are eligible for the DARE scheme. If you are told you are not eligible you can ask for your application to be reviewed. If you are not eligible for DARE, you can still get into college if you meet the entry requirements for your chosen course.

The CAO helpline at (091) 509 800 can help you with your DARE 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 DARE scheme.

The DARE programme runs nationwide information sessions for students and their parents/guardians to deal with queries about preparing the application.

You can download a detailed Application Handbook and checklists to help with your application.

You can also access information about DARE on Facebook.

Where to apply

You apply for DARE online through the CAO.

Central Applications Office

Tower House
Eglinton Street

Opening Hours: Office Hours 9:30-17:00
Tel: (091) 509 800
Fax: (091) 562 344
Page edited: 24 October 2023