Key Facts


years of age or under

Family income assessed


year resident in BMW region


weeks full or part-time


normally September to May

The School Leavers course is designed for students who are 22 years of age or under who have already completed a Leaving Certificate, QQI level 5 or 6 qualification or equivalent. 

  •  Students who complete the Access Course receive a Diploma in Foundation Studies from University of Galway.
  •  They are also eligible to apply for direct entry (via the CAO) to full-time University undergraduate degree courses.
  • Read the Access Foundation Programme 2023


Our programmes are offered in three locations:

  • Galway (Campus, University of Galway)
  • Tuam
  • An Cheathrú Rua (Outreach bi-lingual programme)

Follow these steps to apply:

1. Gather information that you will require e.g. PPS number, CAO number (if applicable), names and contact details of 3 referees (two academic and one personal)

2. You will have the opportunity to forward your financial documents after completing the application form.

3.  Check your email inbox for acknowledgement of your application and follow the information given to submit your addtional documentation.

Complete the Online Application Form here

Is féidir d'iarratas a chomhlíonadh trí Ghaeilge ach Gaeilge a roghnú mar theanga ar an bhfoirm.

The deadline for applications is 15 September 2024.

Any queries please contact the Access Programmes Office by emailing

Who is the Access Course for School Leavers for?

The Access Course for School Leavers is a course specifically designed for students who (are aged 22 or under on year of entry to a degree programme) 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 Border Midlands and West (BMW) region and County Clare. School Leavers who have completed a Leaving Certificate OR completed a QQI Level 5 or Level 6 qualification OR its equivalent can apply. Students should be highly motivated and interested in studying at an undergraduate level in their chosen area.

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.

What standard of Leaving Certificate is required?

The desirable academic requirements for selection are:

  • that you would have received, at least, two H4 grades on higher level papers, and four O6 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 is also an option for those who completed the Leaving Certificate examination prior to 2023 and who did not gain the points required to enter the National University of Ireland, Galway. 

Access Programmes Frequently Asked Questions‌‌


Darren Casserly |   Bachelor of Arts (Journalism)

I am currently a 3rd year Arts with Journalism student. I would say that the access course prepares you better for college than secondary school and gives you the tools to succeed in college. I would highly recommend the course to anyone thinking of applying, and I would not be where I am today without the course.

Saoirse O'Connor |   Access School Leavers

"The benefits of completing the Access course for me have been invaluable. I have received an amazing foundation from which I learned important skills to start an academic career as an undergrad. I have learned how to study and write academicly, to use technology and different programmes in accessing education due to the pandemic. I also benefited from the ongoing supports of the access office which assisted me, as a student to do my best. I was able to study and learn the material provided and I was able to advance my knowledge in subjects and areas that will help me in my chosen college course in the upcoming year."

Oisín Halligan |   Access School Leaver

“I am about to be a first year student thanks to the access course, the access course was the opportunity I thought I’d never get academically, the course gets you far more prepared than secondary school and there are so many good people involved in the course that are there to help whenever possible. I wouldn’t be where I am in life today if it wasn’t for the access course and if you are interested in it I would highly recommend it and you won’t regret it.”