Fe­tac cour­ses of­fer stu­dents a sec­ond route to dream course

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Second Round Offers 2017 -

‘‘ If I had a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of PLCs when I was 18, I wouldn’t have spent three years just drift­ing and stay­ing afloat just to be in col­lege in a course I didn’t want to do at all

She heard of the pre-univer­sity sci­ence course from a friend and took up a place at Killester Col­lege for Fur­ther Ed­u­ca­tion.

Uni­ver­si­ties re­serve a small num­ber of places on many cour­ses for stu­dents com­ing through the PLC Fe­tac course route. Trin­ity of­fers 10 places on its sci­ence course to stu­dents com­ing from the var­i­ous Fe­tac sci­ence cour­ses across the coun­try, and UCD of­fers 30 places.

Other pre-univer­sity Fe­tac cour­ses in- clude law, health sci­ence, nurs­ing, arts, engi­neer­ing and com­puter sci­ence. Many of the one-year PLC cour­ses only cost be­tween ¤450 and ¤600.

The fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses can of­fer stu­dents with a par­tic­u­lar ap­ti­tude for cer­tain area a route to study it, if they fall short of the over­all CAO points for the course.

Last year 10,880 stu­dents with PLC qual­i­fi­ca­tions were of­fered places in third-level

Don’t panic

Dr Gra­ham Love, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Au­thor­ity, says stu­dents who fail to get enough CAO points for their de­sired course should not panic. “Other op­tions are avail­able to you out­side of the CAO sys­tem to ac­cess higher ed­u­ca­tion,” such as Fe­tac cour­ses, he said.

New ap­pren­tice­ships in fi­nan­cial ser­vices, in­sur­ance, and IT are also be­ing rolled out by So­las, a State fur­ther-ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion, to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to third-level cour­ses.

“I had al­ways wanted to study sci­ence, I loved all the sci­ence sub­jects in the Leav­ing Cert, but I just was con­vinced the course was out of reach. I didn’t know there was an­other way,” Sweeney says.

“My Leav­ing Cert has ab­so­lutely no im­pact on the fact that this Septem­ber I’m go­ing to Trin­ity Col­lege and I’m do­ing sci­ence. The CAO is not the end of the world.”

En­try into the lim­ited num­ber of univer­sity places from Fe­tac cour­ses is com­pet­i­tive. Sweeney got nine dis­tinc­tions in her nine ex­ams but, she says, even then she was wor­ried she might not get a place in Trin­ity.

In the grand scheme of things, a year when you’re 18 or 19 is re­ally noth­ing,” says Sweeney. “So many of my friends have dropped out, or changed cour­ses, or switched col­leges, or trans­ferred.”

“I would ad­vise any­one that’s un­sure of tak­ing a place in a course that there are other op­tions, don’t just fall into a de­gree be­cause you feel like you have to.”

Sinéad Sweeney at Trin­ity Col­lege Dublin: “Don’t just fall into a de­gree be­cause you feel like you have to”

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