No, I did not misspell or mispronounce here or there, Hear & Dare are in fact acronyms for Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and Disability Access Route to Education (DARE). Both are initiatives to improve participation in third-level education from specific groups who may not otherwise go to college.

What is HEAR?

HEAR is a scheme that offers places to college and university on reduced CAO points, along with extra college support, to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.  Applicants must meet a range of cultural, social and financial criteria in order to be considered.

They must be school leavers under the age of 23, as of 1 January 2020 who are resident in the Republic of Ireland. Mature and FET (Further Education and Training) students have their own admissions routes and should contact college admissions offices for more information. Applications to HEAR can only be made online through the CAO.

Do I need the same points?

Students deemed eligible for HEAR may be offered a place on their chosen course even if they do not have enough Leaving Certificate points for it. Each participating college and university has a reserved number of places to offer eligible HEAR applicants at lower or reduced Leaving Certificate points. However, like all other students, they must meet the minimum entry requirements and any specific programme requirements before being considered for a HEAR reduced points offer. The reduction in points for HEAR places can vary every year.

What is DARE?

DARE is an alternative admissions scheme to third-level education. It offers reduced points places to those who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges or those disabilities have had a negative impact on their secondary education.

In order to be considered for DARE the students with a disability must be under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2020 and have been educationally impacted as a result of that disability. Applicants to DARE can present with an Irish Leaving Certificate, A-Levels or other EU qualifications and applications are made through the CAO.  Mature students and students applying on the basis of Further Education and Training (FET) results have different admission routes; further information on these routes is available directly from the college and university websites.

To be eligible for DARE, the student must meet both criteria:  the evidence of disability criteria AND the educational impact criteria. It is vital that applicants are aware of the requirements to meet both criteria. It cannot be presupposed that a diagnosis of disability will guarantee eligibility.

Like the HEAR scheme, DARE also offers a limited number of places on courses to eligible students who did not meet the entry points requirement through the CAO, but again they must meet the minimum entry requirements and any specific programme requirements before being considered.

Double Disadvantage

Students who are from a socio-economically disadvantaged background and who also has a disability that has negatively impacted their education are considered to have a ‘double disadvantage’. Research has shown that students with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds face the greatest obstacles when it comes to progression to higher education and so colleges participating in DARE and HEAR have agreed to prioritise this group when allocating reduced points places.

If you think that you may be eligible for either or both access routes to third-level education, talk to your career guidance teacher or check out There is a timeline that needs to be met, so the sooner you start the easier it will be.

A date for your Diary

Jan 11, 2020 Hear & Dare Application Information Day, Nationwide 10am-2pm

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