CAO Round 1: So you have a course offer – What now?


If you had any difficulty in accessing your offer online, then do not panic. Remember, there are an excess of 45,000 other applicants trying to do the exact same thing as you, the exact same time that you are trying to do it. You have until Friday the 23rd of August to decide whether or not you would like to accept your first-round offer to secure a place in college for the upcoming academic year.

When you log into your personal CAO file, there are three possible scenarios that may occur. First, you may be offered a single course on either your level-8 honours degree or your level 7 or level 6 ordinary degree/higher certificate list of course choices.

Second scenario, you might receive an offer of a programme from both CAO course lists.

Or, finally, unfortunately you may not be offered any college place today and may have to consider an alternative to a course within the CAO system this year.

Both scenarios 1 and 3 are pretty straight forward. In scenario 1, you have one week to accept your offer. If you have not accepted by the deadline (Friday 23rd of August) the offer lapses and cannot be retrieved. In the third scenario, you simply have not had any offer from the CAO in this round.

Where the applicant receives two offers – on your level 8 – higher degree list and your level 7 or level 6 list the situation is a little bit more complicated. You can only accept one course, so you must choose between the two offers. It might seem obvious that you would automatically accept the level-8 course, but that may not always be the right decision for the candidate.

You may have a course at the top of your level-8 list of preferences for which you have not received enough points. There a several level 7 and 6 courses in the same disciplines as level 8 degrees, and if you secure at least 60% at the end of year two of your level 7 or 6 course, you can transfer to the beginning of year two of the equivalent course at level 8.

If you find yourself in such a predicament today, then I would highly suggest opting for the offered level 7 or 6 course rather than accepting a level 8 course lower down on your list of preferences, just because it is an honours degree course. Choosing an honours degree course just for the sake of it may result in you taking a disliking to the course as you are not genuinely interested in the course of study and could result in you dropping out of the course.

It is also worth remembering, whatever course you accept over the next few days will have absolutely no effect on your entitlement to accept an offer of a course higher up on either of your two lists if it becomes available to you in a later stage.

I am unfamiliar with the course I have been offered, do I accept it?

Every year, thousands of students who accept course at both publicly funded and private colleges either drop out or fail their first-year exams. If that happens next year, and then you reapply for another course, you will be charged the full course fee (on average €6K) which the State pays to the college on your behalf this year.

This applies even if the course is in a private college.  The Government’s justification for this policy on private college fees is that your parents are entitled to tax relief at 20% on such fees over and above the €3,000 the State charges every student (other than those in receipt of a grant) to register for their course.

The full course fee will be in addition to the annual registration charge, which in the current year is €3,000. Therefore, accepting a course you later abandon is a very expensive mistake to make. Reflect carefully on what you have been offered today and before you decide what it is that you would like to do.

I am happy with my CAO offer but I would like to deffer my acceptance for a year?

If you would like to defer your place, you must contact the admissions office of the college making the offer and request permission to postpone the acceptance until the following year, outlining your reason for seeking a deferral. You do not need to contact the CAO at this stage, as the college will do that on your behalf. The college will most likely allow you to deffer the course for a year.

However, you must remember to reapply to the CAO next year, listing just that one course in your application. If you list other courses as well as your deferred place, you are then back in open competition with next year’s applicants, with the chance that, if the points for the course you have just been offered increase in 2020 beyond your points score, then you will no longer be offered a place in the course.

I have the published points for my desired course but I have not received an offer as a result of random selection, what do I do now?

You may choose to accept the course you have been offered and hope that the college will attempt to clear all those on random selection in the round 2 offers. There is no way of knowing how many candidates are on the same points as you waiting to see if any places become available. Random selection is outlined in the CAO handbook.

I got more points than required for my desired course but I have no received an offer.

It’s important to bare in mind that each course has minimum entry requirements, known as matriculation. If you have the minimum points published in today’s Irish Times but did not get an offer from the CAO, you are probably lacking one of the basic entry requirements for that course.

You may have received a H6 in a specific subject, where the course requires a H5. You could receive a place on this course by repeating the subject in the 2020 Leaving Certificate and hopefully meeting the minimum requirement that you lack. You may carry this year’s points forward and reapply for the course in 2020.

Remember, your result in next year’s Leaving Cert in the subject you repeat cannot be added to your 2019 results in order to increase your points score, as you can only present the points from one sitting of the Leaving Certificate.

I do not wish to accept the CAO course that I have been offered.

You don’t need to take any further action. Your name will remain on the waiting list for any course(s) higher up your order of preference than your current offer. However, be aware that there is no certainty you will receive a further offer.

Where can I get information regarding accommodation near the college that I have been accepted in to?

Colleges have student accommodation services operated either by the college authorities or the student’s union, or by both in the case of large colleges. Many students who get an offer are already on the way to the college to look for some place to live for the year, as quality accommodation is snapped up at a rapid pace.

Do I have to pay a fee when returning my CAO  acceptance?

No payment is required when accepting a CAO offer. The college sends out bills for registration, and so on, separately. Fee enquiries should go to the fee’s office of the relevant college, not the CAO. Students have to pay these charges when registering, unless they are eligible for a grant, in which case the Higher Education Authority pays them to the college on your behalf.

I have been offered a place on a course but can not afford to accept it until I qualify for a grant. When can I find out if I qualify?

The maintenance grant is the main source of financial help for students in full-time-post-Leaving Cert courses and full-time higher-education undergraduate courses offered through the CAO. Eligible students in most colleges in Ireland, as well as eligible Irish students in many college in Norther Ireland, the UK and other EU states, can be supported.

Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) now processes all applications on behalf of the Department of Education, and has been accepting applications from prospective students since April. If you have not yet applied for a grant, you can do so immediately on but your application will be dealt with after those what have already applied.

Some 115,000 grant applications are expected this year from eligible prospective students. For an online application, you’ll need your CAO number, PPS numbers for you, your parent(s) or legan guardian(s), and gross income details for 2018 for yourself and for your household’s relevant members. Determine if you are student dependant (under 23), a mature student dependant (over 23 but living with parents on January 1st 2019), or an independent mature student (over 23) who can prove independent living prior to October 1st, 2018.

Susi’s online tracker system enables students to check their application’s progress. The early application date, the release of data by the CAO directly to Susi, and communication between Susi and the Department of Social Protection is aimed to ensure students receive grant payments from September 2019.

Source: The Irish Times







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