What is the CAO?

By your final year in school, you will have experienced open days, assessments, psychometric tests, careers focussed classes and individual appointments. Hopefully you have narrowed down your course choices and are ready to begin the process of selecting course and putting them in order on the basis of preference, content, points, location and duration.

1. What is the CAO?

The CAO is a centralised applications system that processes all course applications into courses at universities and institutes of technology in the Republic of Ireland.

  • demonstration on how to complete the CAO form is available here.
  • Note – there are a small number of similar courses available through private colleges (fee paying) which can be applied to directly – see Non CAO Courses.
  • Courses in the CAO system are funded by the state, although there is a substantial registration fee which all students must pay. This is also known as a ‘student contribution’ – it covers student services and examinations.
  • The amount of the contribution varies from one institution to another. The maximum rate of the student contribution for the academic year is currently €3,000.

Video Presentation of the CAO System

The CAO does not deal with FET / PLC applications or college applications outside the Republic of Ireland. It is just one of several options available to your child after 6th year. The other options are:

  • College in the UK
  • College in Europe or further afield
  • Post Leaving Cert Course
  • Repeat Leaving Cert
  • Apprenticeship
  • Job

What is a CAO Application Number? The CAO application number is the number assigned to candidates when they submit an application.

The number is unique to each individual and it is important to keep it safe and secure from interference by anyone.

Students often store the number on their phone along with PPSN and other important information. 

If everyone is agreeable it is useful for a parent of guardian to have a record of the number also.

Author: Francis O' Toole

Francis O' Toole is a Educational Psychotherapist & Guidance Counsellor. I set up this blog page to help students gain as much information as possible to be able to make right choices and decisions regarding their career options. I believe that we will be very successful in our careers if we follow what we enjoy.

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