Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Disability: Prospective students

Thinking about studying medicine, pharmacy or physiotherapy?

Great! But before you make that decision you will need to do plenty of research to find out if the course you are interested in is a suitable match for you in terms of your academic abilities, physical and social abilities, aptitudes and values.  You are strongly advised to find out as much as possible about the course of study and occupation that you hope to pursue so that you have a realistic view and can make informed occupational choices.

There are several ways that you can find out more information about your potential career and academic course. In terms of really understanding the demands of a career one of the best ways is to try and experience the working environment of a person actually doing the job. For example, work experience or a holiday job in a healthcare setting is useful. Asking to meet and 'shadow' a professional at work for a liited time (even if it is only for part of the day) also provides some insights into what the job is really like. Even if you can not be present at the worksite then maybe y ou can ask to interview the person.

In terms of RCSI courses, it is important that you attend our Open Day, which is held annually in January. This is an excellent opportunity to talk with academic staff who deliver the various programmes, to discuss the curriculum and its demands, and to meet with some of our students on the various programmes. This advice applies to all candidates applying for RCSI programmes. A candidate with a disability is no different in this regard but may also need to consider if any additional support measures are required to allow them to successfully complete the programme and then practice in the work environment.

The disability officer is available to discuss issues related to study at RCSI with prospective students who have disabilities or ongoing illnesses.

Prospective students don't have to wait until applying for a course at RCSI, we are happy to speak with you at any time during the year. If you would like to visit RCSI to discuss how accessible the campus is for you, please contact us.

Guide to the RCSI Disability Support Service


The RCSI Learning, Access and Facilitation Services is open Monday to Friday from 9:15am to 5:15pm and operates an open door policy within these hours. However, in order to ensure that your needs are met in a timely manner you may wish to request an appointment with the disability officer. This can be done calling into the office, by email to, by telephone +353 1 402 8565.

The aim of the service is to provide disability-related support(s) that will enable a student with a disability to participate and succeed in all aspects of College life. Whether you need information, advice or practical assistance, the disability officer is your first point of contact. You may have questions or want to request support in relation to examinations, the library, assistive technology or other areas of College life. But before we can arrange any of this you must make contact and officially register with the service.

Registration and confidentiality 

At your first meeting the disability officer will ask you to register with the service. It is an RCSI requirement that all students seeking assistance register with the RCSI Learning, Access and Facilitation Services . Registration involves completing some forms and providing proof of the relevant condition. In the event that you request particular supports you will also be asked to sign a consent form so that the disability officer may disclose to staff members or others as necessary, details of your disability-related need. Information will only be disclosed to the extent necessary to meet your needs. Staff members or others in question will in turn be required to maintain complete confidentiality. If you have any concerns about confidentiality please contact the disability officer for further clarification.

Reasonable accommodation

We use the term 'reasonable accommodation' as an umbrella term for any additional disability-related supports that you may need. Our reasonable accommodation policy and procedure is central to helping you get the support you need. If you have any additional questions please contact the disability officer.

The term 'reasonable accommodation' is taken throughout this policy to be that contained in the the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011. 

Applying for a place at RCSI

RCSI is particularly keen to welcome applications from suitably qualified students with a disability. It is RCSI policy to ensure that the admissions process is fair to all applicants and to ensure this the case the College adopts positive action measures in the admissions process to increase the participation rates of those applicants who have traditionally been under-represented in third level education.

Read our detailed information about RCSI Admission policies and procedures.

Frequently asked questions

Will my disability prevent me from studying at RCSI?

No. There is no disability that prevents you from studying at RCSI. The Disability Support Service works with students with many different kinds of disabilities, which include:

  • Specific learning disabilities, e.g. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), dyslexia, dyspraxia
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Blind or low vision
  • Mobility impairment
  • Mental illness

Is RCSI an accessible campus?

All of the buildings at RCSI are accessible. This includes: Ramps, accessible parking and lifts to basement and upper floors of both RCSI buildings (121 and 123 St Stephen's Green).

RCSI recognises that the age and design of some of its older buildings may present some difficulties for students with a disability. Access is always improving. If you are concerned about access on campus, make sure to contact the RCSI Disability Support Service

What programmes can I apply for?

You can apply to any of the programmes offered by RCSI - the choice is yours. Make sure to look at the RCSI website and speak with your guidance counsellor about what course interests you most and for more information on matriculation and exemptions. 

Can I visit RCSI before I apply?

Yes! We strongly encourage you to attend our RCSI Open Day. This is your chance to visit the campus and get more information about the courses and clubs/societies that interest you. The RCSI Disability Service has a stand at Open Day, so make sure to come and have a chat with us. You can also arrange to take a tour of the College by contacting the Student Services Office ( or the Admissions Office (

Where can I find out more about studying at RCSI? 

You can find more about our courses on the RCSI website. Alternatively, you can request a Prospectus, which contains all the relevant information for the Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy undergraduate programmes. Please contact the Admissions Office (Phone +353 1 402 2248/2156 or email to receive a prospectus.

Contact our Students’ Union, for valuable information on student life.

Get in touch with the Disability Service.

Filling out the CAO application

It is important that you take your time when completing your CAO application form. Fill out all parts of the form and return it by the CAO deadline. If you experience any problems, get help. The information below may answer some of your questions.

What affect will ticking the disability box have on my application to RCSI?

You can rest assured that letting us know about your disability through the CAO does not disadvantage you in any way. The Supplementary Admission Route is completely confidential.

What happens when I tick the disability or specific learning disability box on my CAO application?

When you tick the box on your CAO application, an extra form will be send to you. This is called the supplementary information form. You must write the personal statement yourself. Ask for help if you need it, but remember to use your own words. Your medical consultant/specialist will be required to complete the evidence of disability section. If you have a specific learning disability, you must enclose an educational psychologist’s report that is no more than three years old. 

Your school principal and teacher/guidance counsellor must fill out the second level academic reference.

It is important to complete the supplementary information form accurately and return it to the CAO by the CAO deadline.  Late applications or applications without an up-to-date (no more than three years old) medical consultant's/educational psychologist’s report are not considered.

Why should I tick the disability/specific learning disability box on my CAO form?

By ticking the box on your CAO form, your application can be considered for the supplementary admission route.

What is the supplementary admission route?

The supplementary admission route is for applicants who, because of the impact of their disability or specific learning disability, may not gain the competitive CAO points for the course of their choice.

How will my application be assessed?

RCSI uses a number of criteria to assess applications from students with a disability:

  • Leaving Cert and HPAT results and academic achievement in subjects relevant to the course you apply for, as shown by Leaving Certificate/HPAT results and any other academic qualifications
  • The impact of your disability on academic achievement to date
  • Your potential to participate successfully in your chosen programme, as shown in the Supplementary Information Form you submitted to the CAO.

Getting your place at RCSI

Some of the most common questions students ask the disability officer are listed below. If your question is not on the list, please contact us (

What if I don’t get enough points for my chosen programme?

It is still possible to get a place on your chosen programme. If you returned your supplementary information form on time and in full to the CAO, you are now part of the supplementary admission route. your supplementary information form is reviewed carefully using strict guidelines.

Could I still get an offer of a place in RCSI?

If you meet the supplementary admission route entry criteria as outlined previously, you may be offered a place in Round 1.

Who will know I have been offered a place under the Supplementary Admission Route?

The Supplementary Admission Route is confidential; whom you tell and what you tell them is up to you.

How do I accept my place?

Accept your place through the CAO in the normal manner. Check the CAO website ( for more information.

Once I have accepted my place what should I do?

You must attend all RCSI orientation and registration events. For more information check the RCSI website. You can make an appointment with the disability officer, who can explain in detail how to register with the Disability Support Service and will discuss with you the kind of supports you might need to complete your degree.

How do I apply to RCSI as a graduate applicant?

As an EU applicant, you apply through the CAO. However, entry requirements differ for Graduate Entry Programme (GEP) applicants: in addition to a minimum of 2.1 in your degree, you also require competitive GAMSAT or MCAT scores. For further information about the Graduate Entry Programme, please contact the Admissions Office or Student Services.

How can I get on-campus accommodation?

The RCSI on-campus accommodation is located at Mercer Court, beside the College Library. Students are responsible for finding their own accommodation while studying at RCSI. Mercer Court, which is a purpose-built student residence, reserves accommodation for new, incoming students, for which you can apply. For further information, please contact the Mercer Court Accommodation Manager. The disability officer will assist you with finding accessible accommodation specific to your needs.

For further information and advice on finding accommodation in Dublin, please check out our Accommodation Page

Is registration with the Disability Support Service confidential?

You might be worried about talking about your disability with RCSI. It is important to understand that the RCSI Disability Support Service upholds strict policies on confidentiality. The main reason for telling people about your disability is so that you can get the support you need to study effectively at RCSI, for example, note-takers, assistance in the library, assistive technology, learning support and exam support. In order to get support from the Disability Support Service you will need to tell us about your disability. However, we are more interested in the way in which your disability affects you when you are studying, as this will show us what your needs are going to be. You may request complete confidentiality, but you should be aware that this might limit us in our ability to put support in place for you, as implementing support is very difficult without the assistance of other staff in RCSI. 


  • Apply to the CAO before the closing date for your chosen course 
  • Tick the disability/specific learning disability box on the CAO application form 
  • Provide the CAO with the supplementary information form by the CAO deadline 
  • Accept your place through the CAO 
  • Attend RCSI orientation and registration events 
  • Register with the Disability Support Service at the beginning of the semester so you have your   supports when you need them. This will include setting-up a meeting with the disability officer and completing the necessary documentation. 

We hope this information has helped you with the CAO application process and answered some of your questions about studying at RCSI.

If you have any further queries, please feel free to contact us at or contact the Admissions Office.