My son has a disability. Will he get reduced CAO points for his course?

Ask Brian: There is a common misconception around how admission rules for school-leavers with disabilities operates

There is a common misconception around how Dare – the third-level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers with disabilities – operates. Photograph: iStock

There is a common misconception around how Dare – the third-level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers with disabilities – operates. Photograph: iStock

 

My son has a diagnosed disability and has applied for Dare - the third level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers whose disabilities. Will he qualify for reduced CAO points for his chosen course?

There is a misconception widely believed by both parents and students that Dare eligibility equates to a specific number of reduced points requirements for an eligible applicant. This is not now, nor has it ever been, the case.

Firstly, a quick explanation of what Dare is: it is the third level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. Dare offers several reserved places to school leavers on courses offered by the participating colleges for eligible students.

Dare eligibility does not give you a specific number of reduced CAO points - it simply admits you to a competition for the number of Dare places available.

The number of reduced points places available differs college by college, and course by course. The chances of securing an offer of a place through Dare eligibility can vary every year and depend on several factors.

These include the overall number of places on the course, the number of reserved Dare places, the number of eligible Dare applicants competing for these reserved places, and the academic performance of those students in that year.

So, what are the chances of success for eligible candidates? Let’s say course (a) has four reserved Dare places and six eligible Dare applicants. When all the places offered to those meeting the normal CAO points requirements have been allocated, an eligible Dare student will have a two-in-three chance of securing an offer of a place .

Course (b), on the other hand, has five Dare places on offer, but has 60 eligible Dare applicants still seeking places when the normal CAO offers are made. This gives eligible students a one-in-12 chance of securing a place.

Colleges have recently identified that two particular groups of students face the greatest obstacles when progressing to higher education: those with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with physical disabilities and sensory (blind/ vision impaired or deaf/ hard of hearing) disabilities.

In order to increase the opportunities for these students in higher education, colleges participating in Dare and Hear - an access scheme for disadvantaged students - have now agreed to prioritise these groups when allocating reduced points places.

What that means, in effect, is that it will not necessarily be the student with the highest CAO points of those remaining in the competition after the normal CAO places are filled who will be offered the reserved Dare or Hear place, but those from the groups identified above.

Email queries to askbrian@irishtimes.com