CAO - Mature Applicant

placeholder imageThose who are over 23 by 1 January in the proposed year of entry are classified as Mature Applicants.  Some mature candidates may be exempt from the standard minimum academic that apply to school-leavers.  

A limited quota of places is reserved specifically for mature students on all programmes. A number of Mature candidates are selected for these quotas by random selection, regardless of whether or not they hold any qualifying exam results. 

Mature candidates who are not fortunate enough to get offers via the random selection process can also compete, separately, for non-quota places based on their academic qualifications.

List of Courses

  • To view a full list of all full-time undergraduate degree courses (Level 8) click here.
  • To view a full list of all full-time undergraduate degree courses (Level 6 & 7) click here.

Application Process

Mature applicants for first year should apply via the CAO system, preferably before 1 February. You can apply, as a late applicant, up until 1 May at 5.15pm, but this costs more. The CAO handbook suggests that applicants applying after 1 February should contact the college before submitting an application. This is not necessary in the case of ATU Donegal.  We recommend that you apply via the internet,  It is cheaper, faster, and less error prone than paper-based applications. If you don't have internet access you can get a paper Application Form from The CAO.

You are encouraged to list your initial course choices by 1 February if possible. 
If necessary, you can change your mind up to 1 July at 5.15 pm. 

What supporting documentation do I need to supply?

  • Evidence of Age (Do not send the original Birth Certs., send copies).
  • Educational Certificates including: 
    • Leaving Certificate - even if it was a long time ago, it may be important.
    • Mature applicants who did a Leaving Certificate examination in any year since 1985 should indicate the year and the exam number (if known) in the appropriate place on the CAO application form.
    • If you did the Leaving Cert. before 1985, please send a copy of the Cert.
    • QQI FET - Provide appropriate information about your award, e.g. award title, year achieved, exam number, on the CAO application form and back this up by submitting A4 photocopies of any available Certificates. Please make sure your CAO number is written on the top right corner of any photocopy
  • Other Educational Certificates or transcripts.   For instance, if you were previously in college but did not finish the course, you may have results for the years you completed.
  • If you are studying at the moment and awaiting results, please tell us what course you are taking and the date by which you expect to send your results to CAO.
  • Evidence of any Work, Training Courses, etc., that is relevant to the programme(s) for which you are applying.

Applicants for the Mature Nursing Quota

You must be 23 years old by January 1st in the year of entry to be eligible to be considered for the mature entrant quota. There are a limited number of places available for the mature quota. Both eligibility and order of merit on the waiting list for this cohort are based on the results of the assessment test organised by the NMBI and not on Leaving Cert or other academic results. All mature applicants for nursing may sit this aptitude test to be considered for the mature quota, regardless of whether or not they have qualifying schooling results.

Mature applicant who have qualifying school leaving results will, in addition, also have those results considered in the separate competition for standard places.

Mature applicants must be successful in the assessment test for the current year before being considered for an offer for one of the mature quota places. However, success in the test does not guarantee an offer of a place. The assessment test is year specific and results may not be carried forward to a future year (unless a deferred entry has been granted by a HEI).

The NMBI assessment test for the mature quota comprises three separate tests which are:

  • Verbal Reasoning: This test measures the ability to understand written passages and the logical evaluation of an argument.
  • Numerical Reasoning: This test measures the ability to make correct decisions or inferences from numerical data.
  • Job Simulation: This exercise attempts to identify your likely response when presented with scenarios typical of what could occur in a job situation. It measures a range of skills and qualities required in the student nurse role, ranging from taking care of someone, through to taking responsibility in a situation. In this test you will be required to read through a number of scenarios and then choose which action you would take, based on the information presented in the scenario. You will be given a list of possible actions and will be required to select only ONE.

Mature applicants must apply directly here to NMBI to take the tests. The CAO will remind all mature applicants about the NMBI assessment test in an email after the 1 February deadline.

Registration for the assessment tests will be provided directly on the NMBI website.

Further information can be found on the careers section of the NMBI website.

All other programmes will have a limited quota of places reserved for applicants who are admitted on the basis of maturity only.  Selection for this quota is based on courses choices listed by 1 May and will be by random selection. Offers arising from the random selection process issue on Round A and Round Zero. All mature applicants will have an equal chance in the random selection on these rounds, regardless of any exam results or the lack thereof.

Any course choices added after 1 May, e.g. via the Change of Mind process, are not included in the random selection process.  For Nursing and for any course added after 1 May, you will be assessed on the basis of exam results only.   

Mature applicants who have qualifying exam results will, in addition, also be eligible to enter a separate competition on Round 1 and subsequent rounds. Selection on Rounds 1 and later will be competitive and will be based on points arising from qualifying school-leaving exam results.

When should I apply?

Students should apply through the CAO system. A list of CAO application deadlines are as follows:

Early Bird Applications (Discounted application fee) 20 January, 5.00 pm
Normal Closing Date 01 February, 5.00 pm
Late Deadline (More costly and some restriction apply) 01 May, 5.00 pm
Change of Mind (Some restrictions apply) 01 July, 5.00 pm
Student currently registered in Third Level  who entered their current course via CAO  22 July, 5.00 pm


Rechecks & Regrading

A candidate who was not initially considered eligible or who matriculated but below the cut-off point,  may become eligible and rise above the cut-off points following re-check/regrading of their LCE or other school-leaving exam.  Where the revised result becomes known early,  i.e. up to CAO round 3,  ATU Donegal will endeavour to accommodate the candidate in taking up the place in the  current year.  However it is possible that some high-demand courses may be  already full and it may not be possible to accommodate regraded candidates.  In such cases ATU Donegal will offer a deferral to the following year. 

Even where a course is not technically full, a late start  (more than 2 weeks into a 13 week  semester)  may not be in the best interest of the candidates . They will have missed important  induction activities and perhaps a significant portion of the course content.  Therefore, once term has started, and  regardless of whether or not the class group is full, ATU Donegal may  offer deferrals in such circumstances.  Where a  candidate wishes  to take up a late offer in the current year they will  need to make up for any deficit by their own efforts.   Please note that no accommodations will be made for late  entrants in terms of course review nor will allowance be made in terms of meeting course requirements or when it comes examinations.