CAO - Northern Ireland/UK

Students from UK and Northern Ireland who are considering going to college in the Republic of Ireland, and who wish to start at first year, should make their application via the Central Applications Office, more commonly known as the CAO. 

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.

For further advice for Northern Ireland/UK applicants on what qualifications are acceptable, how to interpret results etc, please click here.

Application Process

The CAO application system is different from the UCAS system. There is a video guide, an on-line tutorial and mock application form on the CAO web site. New users may find it helpful to use these to familiarize themselves with the CAO system and to practice making an application before submitting the actual application. The CAO may be contacted via their website here.

CAO can trace current year GCE results from the UK or Northern Ireland, provided the applicant has provided  a correct name and date of birth, and  details of their exam number, etc., at the application stage. For results from previous  years or for non GCE awards,  such as BTECS, you must send photocopies of the Certificates to CAO.  Each photocopy must be notarised or certified by the school as a true and unaltered copy of the original.

Applicants who have taken the same subject over several sittings, or at successive levels, please send the final (cashed in) or  highest level Certificate for each subject. (For example if you have taken English at GCSE, AS level and A-level you need only submit the A-level result). It is counterproductive to send multiple certificates for the same subject.

For more information on submitting supporting documentation please see page 12 of the CAO handbook.

CAO Other/Non-Standard Applicants

Non-Standard Applicants are those who are presenting any qualifications other than

  • Irish Leaving Certificate,
  • QQI FET results or
  • Standard Academic A-levels from the U.K and Northern Ireland

These applicants should also apply before February 1st and should fill pages 3 & 4 of the CAO application form with care.

placeholder imageSupporting documentation, such as relevant Certificates for pre-existing awards, should normally be posted so as to arrive with CAO within 10 days of submission of an on-line application. (See page 12 of the CAO handbook).

Where it is not possible to supply the supporting documentation within this time frame, an indication should be provided as to when it will arrive.  The admissions office at the HEI should also be alerted when any late documentation is supplied.

The final date for receipt of documents that will be considered for Round 1 is August 7th. Exam Certificates should show the name of the Exam/Award, the subject(s) taken and the final grade(s) achieved.

Provisional results are not acceptable.


All non-standard applicants are advised in the CAO handbook (page 12) to submit all supporting documentation, including certified results for any exams or qualifications they wish to have taken into account,  within 10 days of submission of the on-line application.  This facilitates colleges to begin their assessment early and to check back with applicants in the event that anything needs to be clarified.

If the exams are to be taken in the current year, obviously result may not be available within the normal 10-day window.  In any such case, this should be noted at the application stage.  The applicant should submit such results to CAO as soon as they become available. Applicants who submit additional material to CAO outside the normal 10-day widow must also alert the HEI, indicating  that new material/evidence has been added to their application.

As we are required to have submitted round 1 assessments to CAO by August 7th,  applicants wishing to be considered on round 1 should have relevant documentation submitted to us by August 5th. Applicants are warned that where information is submitted after August 5th it may not be assessed on time for consideration on round 1. However,  in the event that there are still vacancies available, late material can be considered for subsequent rounds.

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.