IUA Press Release 27.01.21 - Temporary changes to the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) makes application process easier to complete for Leaving Cert students facing extended school closures

Recognising the difficulty applicants and school staff are facing due to extended periods of secondary school closure, temporary changes have been made to the 2021 DARE process to help students to make their applications. To ensure supporting documentation reaches CAO in time for the March 15th deadline, schools will now be able to electronically sign off students’ supporting documentation. In addition, students applying with Specific Learning Difficulties can now use literacy or numeracy attainment test scores which are up to three years older than those originally sought (from 2016 instead of 2019).

The extended closure of schools is making it more difficult for applicants to link with the school staff required to sign and stamp documents as part of a complete DARE application. DARE will now allow electronic signatures on supporting documentation where physical signatures are not possible, which will make it easier for schools to complete their parts of the process in advance of the March 15th deadline.

Applicants with Specific Learning Difficulties make up one-third of all applicants to DARE year on year. Most of these applications include updated literacy or numeracy attainment test scores that had been conducted in school. The temporary change to the scheme being introduced this year, as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, now means that tests will only have to have taken place on or after 1 February 2016 instead of 1 February 2019. DARE hopes that this extended age limit for tests will result in less pressure on school staff to conduct updated attainment tests, and that all applicants will be able to submit a complete application by the March 15th deadline.

Commenting on these temporary changes, Colm Downes, Access Programme Manager at the Irish Universities Association said, “We find ourselves in a situation where the timeframe leading to our application deadlines is coinciding with school closures.  DARE recognises the increased stress on applicants and their families and the pressure that teachers and other school staff are under to support student applications whilst working from home. We have taken these steps to make applying to DARE more accessible during the pandemic. It is critically important to maintain deadline dates for assessment of applications to be processed in a timely manner for CAO Offers to be made in mid-August.”

DARE is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. Last year DARE received over 5600 applications. In 2020 over 3000 students with disabilities accepted a place in Higher Education through DARE across the 26 participating universities, IOTs and other colleges.




For more information contact:

Colm Downes, Access Programme Manager, Irish Universities Association, colm.downes@iua.ie  086 7809639


Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, IUA, lia.osullivan@iua.ie, 085 7141414


More detail on the changes can be found here https://accesscollege.ie/dare/2021/01/26/changes-to-application-process-2021/

Full information on the DARE scheme can be found on www.accesscollege.ie

The HEAR scheme is operating as normal.