Access Programme for School Leavers 2019/2020

Onlne applications will open from 1st April 2019
    •  School Leavers Access Programme in Ballinasloe (22 years of age or under)  
    •  School leavers Access Programme in Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, An Cheathrú Rua  (22 years of age or under)
    • School Leavers Access programme (NUI Galway Campus)  
    • School Leavers Access Programme (St. Angela's, Sligo)

School Leavers  (22 years of age or under) who have completed a Leaving Certificate OR completed a QQI Level 5 or Level 6 qualification or its equivalent can apply

BEFORE beginning your online application form, please ensure that you read the instructions on how to complete the Online Application using the Guidebook linked below:

What is the Access Course?

The Access Course for School Leavers is a course specifically designed for students who are aged 22 or under and have a real desire to study at third level but are unable due to financial or social reasons. This scheme facilitates school-leavers from all schools in the BMW region and County Clare.

Who is the Access Course for Higher Education for?

This course targets those students who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education but who, for a variety of social and economic reasons, are under-represented at third level. Students should be highly motivated and interested in studying at an undergraduate level in their chosen area.

What kind of Socio-Economic Reasons are considered?

  • Long-term unemployment
  • Low family income
  • Little or no family tradition of progression onto higher education
  • Limited study facilities at home
  • Family stresses (particularly those related to family finance)

This programme is also suitable for students with disabilities, whose background education has been affected by long-term absenteeism due to their illness.

What standard of Leaving Certificate is required?

The desirable academic requirements for selection are: that you would have received, at least, two H4s grades on higher level papers, and four O6S grades at ordinary or higher level; or equivalent qualification such as a further education course. In addition, the University will require general details regarding your family's and your own financial circumstances.

Students who have completed a post-leaving certificate course of study are eligible.

The Access Course will be for selected people from schools in County Galway and surrounding regions who completed the Leaving Certificate examination in 2018 or 2019 and who did not gain the points required to enter the National University of Ireland, Galway. The course will run during the academic year 2019/2020 and will be full-time. People who successfully complete and pass the Access Course will be admitted to degree programmes in the Colleges of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies, Business, Public Policy & Law, Science, Engineering & Informatics, and Schools of Nursing & Health Sciences in September 2020.  

What are the course objectives?

  • To expose Access students to introductory 'taster' courses at University level which will relate to their interests and their future subject choices which will enable them to make subject choices which are related to their ability. (For example: making students aware of the special difficulties and demands involved in choosing language courses).
  • To ensure that the abilities of Access students are recognised and appropriate supports are given to them within the programme.
  • To ensure that Access students acquire the necessary writing and study skills which will enable them to maximise their full academic potential at NUI Galway.
  • To create an understanding amongst Access students regarding the skills and discipline necessary to manage time at University.
  • To ensure that Access students have a working knowledge of Information Technology.

How is the course organised?

It is a 20-week full-time course over a full academic year, normally September - May.

What are the subjects?

Course Content:

The course content consists of two supporting elements: core subjects and academic options.

Core subjects include Study Skills, Applied Writing, Information Technology, and Educational Guidance.

Academic Options: provide students with introductory university courses as a prelude to continuing their studies to a higher level. Students generally study four options (two per semester) from the following subjects *:

  • College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies: Philosophy, Sociology, History, Irish, English, Mathematics, Geography
  • College of Science: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  • College of Engineering & Informatics: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  • College of Business, Public Policy and Law: Economics/Accountancy, Mathematics

Should I also make an application through the CAO?

All current Leaving Certificate students are strongly advised to make an application for degrees through the CAO.

Summary - Application checklist:

  1. Gather all financial details as listed in the guidebook
  2. Make the online application (see top of the page for links) 
  3. Upload all documentation to your application
  4. Send link for SLA Referee Questionnaires to Two Referees here -  SLA Referee Questionnaire. ‌ The referees will then submit  the reference online via the link HERE
  5.  Please download  and complete a copy of the Personal Statement form  here: Personal Statement - Access Programme

Any queries please email

In the event that you are called for an interview, you will be notified of the date and time by email.
Places are generally offered to students 2/3 weeks after the interviews are complete.
Once a place is offered the student is given a number of days to accept the offer.


Course costs are borne by the University, contingent on funding.

What other supports are there?

Students are provided with relevant support while on the Access course and as undergraduates:

  • Academic Support (if required) in the form of additional tutorials in new or challenging subjects
  • On-going support and guidance from academic mentors and the Access Programmes Office.

For further details contact 
Tel: (091) 493553 

DOWNLOADS: Handbook Guide August 2018 - School Leavers

Applicants must be resident in the Border, Midlands and Western (BMW) region or in County Clare for at least six months prior to the commencement of the course.