Concept

Central Applications Office

Résumé
The Central Applications Office (CAO) (An LárOifig Iontrála) is the organisation responsible for overseeing undergraduate applications to colleges and universities in the Republic of Ireland. The primary mission of the Central Applications Office is to centrally process applications in a fair and efficient manner. The colleges and universities delegate the administration of admissions to the Central Applications Office; colleges and universities retain full control of admissions. The Postgraduate Applications Centre is a related organisation that oversees some taught postgraduate courses. The Central Applications Office was founded in January 1976 based in Galway, with nine colleges and universities participating initially. The first students processed through the system commenced courses in 1978. The Central Admissions Service (CAS) was introduced independently by the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Regional Technical Colleges, both of whom were outside the initial Central Applications Office. Commencing in the 1991 intake the Central Applications Office and Central Admissions Service decided to combine their admissions procedures so that students would have to complete only one joint application form for both systems - the CAO/CAS. The common points scale came into operation the next year, with the best six results from one sitting of the Leaving Certificate becoming the standard; previous to that there had been some allowance to accumulate points by sitting the Leaving Certificate more than once. Also the combined system was taken as an opportunity to reduce non-standard applications such as interviews for selection and portfolios of work - and overall to simplify the applications process. Eventually the CAS was subsumed into the CAO. Students applying for admission to third level education courses in Ireland apply to the CAO rather than to individual educational institutions such as colleges and universities. The CAO then offers places to students who meet the minimum requirements for a course for which they have applied.
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