Students to receive CAO offers four days after Leaving Cert results

Applicants will have less than a week to accept round one college offers

College applicants are due to receive CAO first round round offers four days after the Leaving Cert results are released. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

College applicants are due to receive CAO first round round offers four days after the Leaving Cert results are released. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


Tens of thousands of college applicants are due to receive CAO first round offers four days after the Leaving Cert results are released.

The Central Applications Office (CAO) confirmed on Friday that offers will be made available online at 2pm on Tuesday, September 7th. Applicants will have just under a week to accept any offers .

The later issuing of offers follows the release of Leaving Cert results on Friday, September 3rd, about three weeks later than normal.

This will force many third-level colleges to delay the admission of first-year students by a least a fortnight.

The move has also sparked concern that many first years will face greater difficulties sourcing accommodation given that other college students will have returned to college earlier.

Many colleges are currently re-drawing their timetables for the commencement of orientation weeks and teaching for first year students.

For example, new students had been due to arrive on campus from September 6th in NUI Galway and University of Limerick, and on September 13th in Trinity College Dublin, UCD, DCU, UCC and TU Dublin, among others.

Higher education sources say it is likely that enrolment of first years will be delayed until September 20th or later in many of these institutions. Students in other year groups are unaffected.

Maynooth University – which had been planning to enrol first years from September 20th – is likely to be unaffected by the new results date.

Record numbers

There are a record 84,000 CAO applications this year due, mainly, to an increase among mature and international students.

The Government has signalled that it will provide an additional 4,500 college places in high-demand courses in an effort to ease pressure for places and CAO points.

Minister for Education Norma Foley, meanwhile, has defended the decision to release Leaving Cert students’ results around three weeks later than normal.

She said the State Examinations Commission had advised that additional time was needed to ensure all checks and balances are completed for both exams and accredited grades.

The Minister said that while details for appealing grades are still being worked out, she had “every confidence” this will be done in a timely manner to ensure any upgraded students are able to take up their chosen college courses in the 2021/22 academic year.

She said the higher education system had shown “remarkable flexibility” last year and she was sure this will happen once again.

The CAO has also released dates for later round of offers (see below) and has urged applicants to log in and confirm their application online before it is too late.

Last month, the CAO began emailing applicants requesting that they confirm all of their personal details, exam information, exemptions (if any) and course choices are recorded correctly on their accounts.

Eileen Keleghan of the CAO said this “statement of application” email is designed to ensure applicants do not miss out on a place because some of their information is incorrect or missing.

This can happen if, for example, there is an incorrect examination number or if an exemption is not recorded.

“If applicants notice the error now, they still have the opportunity to rectify it before it’s too late,” she said.

Further details on how to complete this process are available online (

She said the CAO’s change of mind – which allows applicants to add, remove or change the order of their courses – will remain open until July 1st at 5:15pm.

Key CAO dates for 2021:

July 1st (5.15pm): Change of mind deadline

Final date for any “change of mind” amendments to course choices and order of preference on all CAO applications for entry to college in September 2021.

July 7th: Round A offers

A small number of offers of places will be issued to deferred applicants, mature applicants and applicants who have completed an access course or need to make visa arrangements before taking a place.

August 5th: Round Zero offers

Offers will be issued to certain categories of applicant who are not competing with those awaiting 2021 exam results or who are assessed on other criteria, such as graduate entry medicine applicants, additional mature, deferred and access applicants and applicants from further education.

September 7th (2pm): Round One

This is the big date for most applicants: round one offers are due to issue mainly to this year’s Leaving Cert applicants, as well as many deferred applicants, mature students and others. The deadline to accept these offers will be 13th September, 2021 at 3pm.

September 20th: Round Two

Students are due to receive Round Two offers on September 20th at 10am and will have just two days to accept these offers. The deadline is set for September 22nd at 3pm.

September 28th: Round Three

These offers are due to issue on September 28th from 10am. Again, there will be a short window to accept in time for the deadline of September 30th at 3pm.