General Information

OOP Case
The Central Application Office has been delegated by higher education institutions in Ireland the task of centrally processing applications to their first year undergraduate courses.
Short summary
Online application system, including submission and payment of application fees, confirmation and offers. CAO has been delegated by higher education institutions in Ireland the task of centrally processing applications to their first year undergraduate courses. The participating institutions retain the function of making decisions on admissions. This service reduces administrative burden on citizen by providing central application process instead of several direct applications to different universities and colleges.
Start date
Nature and status of project
Rolled Out
Is the OOP case/enabler mandatory?


Political commitment
Data Protection Strategy 2014 - 2016, Strategy Statement 2014 - 2016.pdf

The mission of the strategy is to protect the individual’s right to data privacy by enabling people to know, and to exercise control over, how their personal information is used, in accordance with the Data Protection Acts and related legislation.
Organizational commitment
Data-Sharing and Governance,

In October 2013, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform brought a ‘Memorandum to Government’, setting out a series of actions to improve data sharing in the public service. Chief among these was the development of the Heads of a Data-Sharing and Governance Bill.

On 1 August 2014, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published a policy paper entitled, ‘Data Sharing and Governance: Policy Proposals’, which set out key elements of proposed legislation. Interested parties were invited to make submissions responding to the policy proposals. The Department received many constructive submissions, which are published below. The submissions received have contributed significantly to the development of policy on Data-Sharing, and
the Department is very grateful to the respondents for their contributions to date.
On 24 November 2014, a public information event was held to discuss the outcomes of the consultation. The event was addressed by Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Helen Dixon, Data Protection Commissioner; and Daragh O’Brien of Castlebridge Associates. This event allowed for useful discussion of the main policy issues from different perspectives.

Having considered the submissions received, the Department prepared a draft General Scheme of the Data-Sharing and Governance Bill which was submitted to Government for approval to commence drafting of the Bill. In July 2015, the Government approved the drafting of the Data-Sharing and Governance Bill 2015, along the lines of the General Scheme, subject to such drafting or technical amendments as may be agreed between the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Attorney General.
Motivations, benefits, public value
12 Principles of Quality Customer Service,

In their dealings with customers, Public Servants will ensure that services are provided in accordance with the 12 Principles of Quality Customer Service, including: Quality Service Standards, Equality/Diversity, Physical Access, Information, Timeliness and Courtesy, Complaints, Appeals, Consultation and Evaluation, Choice, Official Languages Equality, Better Co-ordination, and Internal
Socio-cultural influence factors
The following are the common issues which were considered in the formulation of future plans of Application Processing Systems:
• Concerns relating to the security of data and the confidentiality of applicant information Outsourcing of infrastructure development and certain support services
• Use of social media to attract students (Facebook,
• Development of student/ HEI call centres in certain countries
• Increasing requirement for data warehousing models that provide a single data repository, and hold historic and current application details
• Business intelligence tools available to education providers to allow them to interrogate information stored on a data model
• Maintenance of charitable legal status in the context of changing external environment and funding pressures
• Requirement to expand service offering to meet the changing needs of education providers and applicants to education.


Type of data sharing
Actual data
Data handler
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Potential Students
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Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
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The CAO will develop its ICT and system usability to enhance interaction both between the CAO and applicants, and the CAO and admissions officers. At the moment send and receive documents by post service between CAO and applicants is acceptable as well. CAO will communicate with applicants via post and email, and in some instances telephone and SMS text message, at various intervals throughout the application process. Furthermore, Some Higher Education Institutes will also contact applicants directly by post, email or SMS text message.
Lessons learned
The CAO represents an excellent example of shared service provision within higher education and has gained a high level of credibility nationally and internationally for its effectiveness and efficiency and for the objectivity and transparency it provides to the admissions processes. In addition to ensuring the provision of a dependable, robust and secure application processing service.
In CAO applicants will benefit greatly from having a one-stop-shop where they can choose from a multitude of courses, offered at various levels, both on a full-time and part-time basis.
The Irish application processing system is most similar to the systems in Croatia, Sweden and Australia. Croatia, South Africa and Oman have all examined the CAO system and adopted major elements of the CAO model when designing their own central application processing systems.
Application processing systems may be separated into three main types:
1. Offers based on interim results – based on the UCAS system in place in the UK and also in Ontario, Canada.
2. Application portal only – in place in Germany, the Netherlands and British Columbia,Canada.
3. Choices ranked and applicants ranked – reflective of the CAO system, with the Irish model similar to that adopted in Croatia, Sweden, and Australia.