DARE admissions scheme for students with disabilities
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 - see 'How to apply' below.
The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) is a voluntary organisation that promotes the participation of students with disabilities in third-level education. The AHEAD website has a range of information about educational supports for students with disabilities at third level. There is also information about accessing college.
The AHEAD website also has a list of other student services.
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.
Application procedures for students with a disability
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. To be eligible for the scheme you must provide evidence that your disability has affected your educational performance significantly – see ‘Supplementary Information Form’ below.
You must also be aged under 23 on 1 January 2021.
How the scheme works
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.
You apply for DARE through the Central Applications Office (CAO) – see ‘How to apply’ below. Once 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.
Whether you apply for college through DARE or through the standard CAO procedure, there is a range of supports for student with disabilities while they are at college. The supports available vary from college to college but may include: an orientation programme; study skills and extra tuition if required; access to assistive technology and training; mentoring.
Supplementary Information Form
To be eligible for DARE you must provide additional information on the Supplementary Information Form (SIF).
If you tick the box on the online CAO form that asks if you have a disability or specific learning difficulty, you will be directed to the online Supplementary Information Form. If you are making a paper application, you can request a paper version of the Supplementary Information Form.
The form has 3 sections as follows:
- Section A asks for information on your disability and if you wish to be considered for DARE.
- Section B is a 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.
How to apply
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.
DARE admission route
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.
If you prefer, you can contact the CAO and ask for paper versions of the main form and the Supplementary Information Form.
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.
Key dates for 2021 applications using DARE
5 November 2020 - the online CAO application facility for 2021 opens.
1 February 2021 - your main application must reach the CAO by 5.15 p.m. Late CAO applications are not considered for DARE.
1 March 2021 - the following 3 items must reach the CAO by 5.15 p.m.
- Tick the box on the main CAO form that indicates you have a disability or specific learning difficulty.
- Complete Section A of the Supplementary Information Form.
- Indicate that you wish to be considered for DARE by ticking 'Yes' on question 1.
15 March 2021, the rest of the Supplementary Information Form must reach the CAO by 5.15 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 2021 (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 also access information about DARE on Facebook.
Where to apply