DARE HEAR release 11.12.20: Greater numbers of Higher Education places accepted by students with disabilities and students facing socioeconomic disadvantage in 2020.

Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) and Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) Annual Report 2020 published today shows a 22% increase in places acceptance by students with disabilities and 15% increase by those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage.

11.12.20: The DARE and HEAR Annual Report for 2020 shows that almost one in five students who applied to the CAO were assessed for DARE and/or HEAR eligibility with 11,576 Higher Educations places offered made to these applicants.

The numbers accepting offers increased by 22% for students with disabilities and by 15% for those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage when compared to figures in 2019.

Providing reduced points places to school leavers, DARE and HEAR aim to mitigate the negative impact socio-economic disadvantage and/ or disability can have on progression to and participation in higher education.

Since the schemes went national in 2010 they have grown from 8 participating HEIs to 25. Over those 10 years, the number of applicants has grown from 1836 applicants to 5642 for DARE and 4229 to 6555 for HEAR.

When compared to figures in 2019, the following key findings emerged in the 2020 report:

  • 28% increase in the number of offers to applicants who were eligible for DARE
  • 14% increase in the number of offers to applicants who were eligible for HEAR
  • 22% increase in the number of DARE eligible applicants accepting offers
  • 15% increase in the number of HEAR eligible applicants accepting offers

Commenting on the report, its author, Colm Downes, Access Manager at the Irish Universities Association said, “Considering the influence that COVID-19 had on Leaving Certificate students in 2020, we are delighted to have been able to substantially increase the number of DARE and HEAR applicants accepting reduced points offers for Higher Education this year. With these schemes now available at 25 HEIs we are seeing a positive impact right across the country”.

The schemes are now in operation in 25 Irish HEIs including all Universities, Institutes of Technology, Technological Universities and Colleges of Education. Each HEI reserves a minimum of 5% of its places for reduced points offers for each of DARE and HEAR. Developed by the HEIs, the schemes are run in partnership with the CAO.

Maynooth University student Iqura Naseem studied at Saint Dominic’s college in Ballyfermot Dublin before she entered University through both DARE and HEAR. Now studying a Masters Degree in Accounting she talks about the benefits of the schemes: “The access scheme connects everybody like a family. There’s so much help out there, in every college there is a disability office and they all give you the supports that you need.” 

Cork Institute of Technology student Cian O’Connell is a a second year Biomedical Engineering student in CIT. He first heard of the HEAR scheme while at the CIT Open Day and then sought out some help from his secondary school guidance counsellor in applying to HEAR.  Talking about the supports he has received Cian said, “The access service in CIT has helped me in so many ways from one-to-one meetings, to financial bursaries, and help in purchasing a new laptop so that I could continue with online study during COVID-19”.


For more information contact: Colm Downes, IUA Access Manager, colm.downes@iua.ie

More information on DARE and HEAR can be found on www.accesscollege.ie

The full DARE & HEAR Report 2020 can be downloaded at www.accesscollege.ie/hear/news-hear/2020/12/08/dare-hear-summary-report-2020