Find out how you can access higher education in Ireland


The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a higher education admissions scheme for Leaving Certificate students (under 23) whose economic or social background are underrepresented in higher education.

Watch the videos below to find out what college life is like for students who used the HEAR scheme. 

Denise Kelleher is 18 years old and has just entered her first year in UCC. She’s studying international development, something she has always been interested in but particularly after a trip to Kolkata with the Hope Foundation in January. It was then that she was inspired to do the course after seeing the impact of their amazing work.  She describes her journey into UCC as being exciting and new.  Since her first year began it has been fully online but despite that she still loves learning about the interesting subjects in her course. She hasn’t sat in a classroom since March and hopes in a few weeks she might get the opportunity to have some face to face lectures.

Cormac is a 20-year-old studying his undergraduate degree at the University College of Dublin. He’s come from a family of five and is the first in my family to have completed the Leaving Certificate and to continue onto third level education. His drive and passion to make it to 3rd level education was instilled into him by his parents. His strong work ethic has been developed through  many part-time jobs over the years. At times he has held three jobs while being a full-time student in UCD. He came to university as a shy and reserved young adult, not completely confident or sure in who he was. He is now an exuberant, energetic and proud gay male with an aspiration to become a barrister in Ireland. He studies the BCL/Maitrise degree in UCD which allows him to graduate with two degrees at the end of four years. He is currently studying at Université Toulouse 1 Capitole in Toulouse, France and is  furthering his cultural experience and cultivating lifelong friendships and trying his best to succeed in the strange times we find ourselves in.

Donnah arrived in Ireland in 2014 with her children to seek asylum. She has been living in the direct provision system while waiting for a decision on her international protection application. Despite the challenges and barriers she has faced over the past few years she has managed to complete several part-time courses with institutions such as the limerick college of further education and ICM which eventually lead her to enrolling into the University of Limerick. She is an enthusiastic volunteer and the founder of a limerick-based community group. Donnah is a tireless activist and advocate for human rights, often engaging in public speaking events across the country to highlight issues and challenges faced by others living in similar conditions such as hers.

Originally from Bunclody, Co.Wexford, Holly and her family moved to Dublin when she was 11. Having lost both of her parents by the age of 17, Holly settled in Ballina, Co. Tipperary to carry out her Leaving Cert year. While she was surrounded by exceptional school staff and the support of family, the challenges of adjusting to new living arrangements, settling into a new school and grief impacted on her Leaving Cert preparations. Holly faced further issues with college related applications, due to her status, as she was ‘not an available option’ on any of these forms. It was at this point that she connected with Access DCU, who were able to offer university specific advice and assistance. With the support of her school community, extended family and the Access team, in tandem with her own resilience and determination, Holly successfully completed secondary school and began her journey as a DCU Access Student, studying English and Human Development. Holly is also a UNICEF Youth Ambassador and Child Rights Activist.